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Full text of "The cat and the cherub, and other stories"



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THE CHERUB 





STORIES 





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Henry L. Pierce. 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 



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THE 

CAT AND THE CHERUB* 

AND OTHER STORIES 



BY • 

CHESTER B. FERNALD 




NEW YORK 

THE CENTURY CO. 
1896 



Copyright, 1895, by 
C. B. Fernald 

Copyriglit, 1895, 1896, by 
The Century Co. 



■ F39/ C 



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



THE DE VINNE PRESS, NEW-YORK 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

The Cat and the Cherub 1 

The Cruel Thousand Years 33 

The Gentleivian in the Barrel 61 

The Man who Lost his Head 81 

The Pot of Frightful Doom 99 

Chan Tow, the Highrob 119 

A Little Liberal 135 

The Tragedy op the Comedy 159 

Enter the Earl of Tyne 189 

The Spirit in the Pipe 213 

The Parlous Wholeness of Ephraim . . . 227 



i 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 




IVE were the years of the Infant Hoo 
Chee, and five were the inches of his 
cue. Then he had an adventure. 

Every one in San Francisco who 
loves to look at a beautiful girl re- 
members Bayley Arenam. Once you 
mention her among the Hundreds straightway springs 
some novel anecdote of a cleverness of hers. She was 
a Cahf ornian, blessed with a glitter of talents and with 
a person to vex the gods. And she was the one. 

Hoo King was the Infant's father — the ginseng 
merchant; and Hoo Bee, of the lily feet, was his 
mother. She who tended him was Hwah Kwee, the 
amah, a woman of flat feet and considerable kindness. 
They dwelt in Chinatown and prospered there ; . for 
Hoo King had interests, and was one of the secret Ho 
Wang Company, and was greeted with smirks at the 
Hong-Kong- American bank. . 

The Infant's world was three wide rooms on a top- 
most floor, — commodious, truly, — and a flower-pot 
balcony leaning over the main thoroughfare, whence 
one could drop beans on passers-by, and run away in 
an ecstasy of fear. Only at intervals did he see the 
streets ; and then he was wedged between the amah 
and his father, both inwardly alert. For the fifth of 



2 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

Hoo Chee's years was a troublous time and made his- 
tory in the quarter ; and one who would strike most 
bitterly at Hoo King, the suspected traitor to the 
Chee Kung Tong, would take, not the old man's life, 
but his son. The parents treasured their offspring 
because his existence insm-ed the rightful worship at 
the graves they expected to fill ; and so they made a 
baby of the boy, though he was of the age when some 
sons put on cue-strings and a man's estate ; and they 
tried to discourage fascinations beyond the thi^eshold. 
But every day the Infant saw the forbidden streets 
with deeper longings. 

His only human friend was Yeo Tsing, the Presby- 
terian evangelist. Yeo had a pious, folded look, as 
of a holy volume ; but he had a genial eye for a child. 
He taught the Infant many mission songs, which Hoo 
Chee caught from the convert's lips and held tena- 
ciously, especially the air of that hymn which inquires 
pertinently of all little CJiinese proselytes, first in a 
high and skeptical tenor. 

Are you washed — are you washed ? 

and then in a bass and warning tone. 

Are you washed — are you washed ? 

and so forth. This the Infant was fond of singing to 
himself, though there is doubt whether he could have 
expounded it theologically. 

But best of all, Yeo served to tide over some of the 
child's depression with telling him stories — stories 
of small people who did great things. The one that 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 3 

appealed to tlie Infant most was that of a little boy 
wlio set out from home all alone, and after many, 
many weary miles, and countless trials in which he 
showed exceeding' fortitude and virtue, arrived at a 
glorious place called the House of Glittering Things, 
where he lived happily ever afterward. It was not 
very clear why the httle boy had left home. Yeo could 
never be quite satisfactory on that point, because he 
had forgotten about it, and was too honest to invent. 
But what conditions would lead a little child to go forth 
from the roof of his birth and retm-n no more, the In- 
fant knew well in his heart, and kept there. He had 
learned from these stories much to whet his cravings 
for the world outside. It seemed that there were re- 
gions where, as far as you could see, all the land was 
like one great back yard, except that instead of musty 
boards and grim, gray rubbish there were acres and 
acres of waving green things, and millions of beauti- 
ful flowers that you might pluck without a whipping 
— flowers as handsome as those on the balcony, and 
free for all ! And there were places where a hundred 
roof-spouts could not make so big a puddle as was 
spread as clear as crystal earrings in a circle of these 
posies, where humorous little things with legs were 
waiting to jump head first into the water just as you 
almost touched them, and then to laugh at you from 
the opposite bank; and where little fishes from be- 
hind a rock peeped up at you out of the corners of 
theii' eyes. 

When the Infant was by him^self he would describe 
aU these things to little One-Two, his beloved cat and 
confidant, the only creature mth whom he divided his 



4 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

sorrows. One-Two was barely out of kittenhood, yet 
had a vague, iuvitiug melanclioly in his look. Most 
of his body was covered with long white hairs that 
spoke of Angora; but his tail was slim and bluish- 
gray, and altogether Maltese ; and when one remem- 
bers how he appeared suddenly from nowhere, and 
came mewing, cold and lean and hungry, into the joy- 
ous arms of the Infant, it is not hard to imagine One- 
Two as the projection in time of an international 
romance. The Infant coddled the waif and stole food 
for it, and named it One-Two because it had one tail 
immediately prominent as an error in its composition, 
and two eyes of imperial yellow. These were its sal- 
vation, for Hoo King had at first superstitiously com- 
manded that the strange cat be dismissed ; but Hoo 
Chee had resisted even to struggles and tears, which 
tenacity delighted his father, who at once asked a for- 
tune-teller for a translation of the omen. If the cat's 
eyes were blue, came the dictum, then boil its body in 
oil, for the augur}^ was bad; but if they were the 
color of the viceregal jacket, then it was a cat of for- 
tune better than good. So One-Two survived, and 
slept curled in the Infant's arms, and perpetually fol- 
lowed him about in the da}i;ime, and waxed in size 
until he was heavy to carry. Once from his bal- 
cony Hoo Chee saw a little American girl — one of 
delicacy rare in this quarter — going along the street 
bearing a cat. It was not so pretty as One-Two, 
thought the Infant ; but it had a red ribbon around 
its neck that gave it too much honor. He searched 
his world for something like tlie red ribbon ; but there 
was nothing. At last he abstracted from his mother's 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 5 

possessions some bright-green silken cords that looked 
like cue-strings, and he made a little cue of the long 
hairs of the cat's neck, and braided in the silk as an 
extension of it. One-Two, whose mischosen tail was 
already a source of questioning self-contemplation, 
spent a bad half-day in a corner, foreboding over this 
fresh phenomenon. To Hoo Cliee the effect of the 
trailing green was rhapsodical, and the event of happy 
hours. 

But ever his confinement from the glowing world 
told on the Infant's years. The shouts of thousands 
of Freedom's Aiyan children penetrated to his small 
body and infused in it some of the New World es- 
sence. Now came the season of the Chinese New 
Year, and he remained stalled with three impassive 
spiiits, while the aii' about was joyous with music 
and laughter and song. He could not play by day 
when from his rear window he caught a bare glimpse 
of the Taoist priests, led by a string of pompous 
boys, — some of them seemingly smaller than he, — 
all making way to the joss-house, bearing gifts to the 
gods, and making the quarter resound with squealing 
pipes and clanging gongs. He could not sleep by 
night when everywhere he heard invisible fire-crack- 
ers rattling as if the gods had come down. While 
the amah snored by his side he lay awake and 
thought of the story of little Quong Sam and the 
House of Glittering Things, and the lovely lady 
that made him tea and gave him cakes whenever he 
asked. He longed to go abroad and meet with like 
adventures. 

The sixth day of the holiday week had been set for 



6 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

what happened but once a year. It was a trip away 
from the quarter, — first to the cemetery, and then to 
the ocean beach, — to which the women looked for- 
ward with highest delight. Hoo Chee had learned 
some time before that they were to take him along, 
and this had sent him singing and dancing the rest 
of the day. But it seemed that the time would never 
come. When Hoo King came in one morning and 
found the women bedecked in their best, he suddenly 
changed his mind, and said that the child should re- 
main at home, and that the amah must stay to take 
care of him. For a father with a single offspring it 
was too extravagant a risk to take a small child on a 
raili'oad train among the foreign devils, whose curi- 
osity and impertinence at the sight of the women 
were themselves enough to bear. They had dressed 
the Infant handsomely; he was sure that this was 
the momentous day, and his blood ran gaily at the 
prospect ; but again they told him the time had not 
yet come, and the father went off with Hoo Bee, 
leaving the amah weeping behind. It was the cus- 
tom of the amah to weep, and the child felt sure 
they would have taken her if this was the wonder- 
ful event. He went to his favorite place on the 
balcony, only somewhat hushed and downcast. 

He was thinking, though he did not know it. Why 
did they always keep him in, instead of letting him 
loose, as he saw the happy little urchins in the street? 
Could he not go about boldty enough, and preserve 
himself as well from harm as tliev? When would 
they braid silk strings in his curtailed pigtail, and 
put his head in a cap with a red button, and his legs in 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 7 

splendid sk^M^lue trousers wrapped at tlie bottoms? 
Certaiuly he was already as strong as any man. He 
could kick off all the bed-clothes, and get spanked 
for it by the amah. He could hang by his ankles to 
the edge of the sink, and appear to be standing on 
his head. The amah would not dare such a feat. 
And during all tliis festal period they had taken him 
out only once — then briefly to the joss-house, before 
the hairy wooden gentlemen who sat receiving offer- 
ings of fruits and sweets enough to make a covetous 
infidel of any mortal. He was charged to repeat 
certain words that he could not understand to the 
wooden gentlemen, which he did with an accuracy 
flattering to his father. But then they dragged him 
unwilling home through the decorated streets, with 
the thrauneen of a rice-cake as his part of the re- 
joicings. 

One-Two had cautiously picked his way over the 
iron bars to a seat on a flower-pot, whence he licked 
the hand of his small patron. But now the Infant 
was staring down across the street like a statuette. 
He had seen Miss Arenam. This was the third time 
he had feasted his big brown eyes on her. Occasion- 
ally, after an absorbing morning with the clay, she 
left the lunch-room at the art school, and strolled 
through as much of Chinatown as included the prin- 
cipal windows, where new things are sometimes found 
in porcelain and bronzes. He had noticed her first 
when she paused one day in curiosity at the balconies 
on his side of the street. He had stared in fascina- 
tion, with his chin on the rail ; and then from as far 
as he could strain outward without falling he had 



8 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

watched her moving away. Two months later she 
appeared again. She did not look up this time, and 
after a minute the Infant shouted, ^' Ha-o ! " But his 
small voice was inadequate, and she departed without 
noticing. Now the lovely dark-haired lady had 
shown herself once more. The Infant was absorbed 
in thought, and his eyes were fixed constantly on the 
door of the china-shop whence she would soon emerge. 

After a while he could see her skirts moving about 
in the store, and then — there she was! 

"Ha-o!" cried the Infant, swinging his arms up 
and down. 

Then he stood mute and discontented, for she had 
not looked up, but had walked away quite unaware 
of him. 

Was he always to stay thus pent ? If he were free, 
how quickly he would run and get her to smile ! The 
amah had left the room. He could hear her down- 
staii's, communing in bitter tones with the neighbor 
Ching Lo. From the thi'eshold of the forbidden haU 
he heard no noises — every one who could go out was 
on the streets. On such a day as this, perhaps, the 
brave little Quong Sam of old had ventured forth to 
find the House of Glittering Things. The Infant 
grasped the baluster with every sense alert, and took 
one step down. No angry lightning came to strike 
him. Then he took another step, and paused to listen 
if there were bad devils coming to seize a naughty 
boy. But the house w^as still, and he went on, planting 
two feet safely on each step until he reached the land- 
ing. Ching Lo's door was ajar, but not so that they 
could see him ; and his soft shoes carried him noise- 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 9 

lessly past. Tliere^ down another fiigiit, was the street 
— and then he conld run and catch the lovely lady ! 
He made the descent to the front door with greater 
confidence and equal circumspection. How delight- 
ful the free air ! Now he would hurry and ask her 
the way to the House of Glittering Things, for she 
must know, if, indeed — why had he not thought be- 
fore ? — she were not herseK the Lady of Cakes and 
Tea ! Oh, joy ! Then he heard a familiar voice that 
stopped him. It was One-Two, who had followed 
him, and now stood questioning at the head of the 
flight. He had almost forgotten One-Two 5 but could 
he leave the faithful partner of his woes behind? 
The Infant stood in serious quandary. That his 
father would be interested in his son's disappearance 
did not occui' to the child. No such idea had been 
instilled in him. But indeed the loss of One-Two, 
the mascot, would not be undergone without long 
search and deep displeasure. You could buy little 
boys at a joss-house, but mascots came only unex- 
pectedly in through the window. Yet should One- 
Two stay on and fall again to the bad grace from 
which he had so recently emerged, the Infant shud- 
dered for what might happen. For the cat would be 
thrown from a window into the soiled back street. 
But still, with such a burden, how weary would the 
many miles be on the way to the House of Glittering 
Things ! And he remembered how little Quong Sam 
had not only cast away his shoes, but had even 
shaved off his eyebrows to make himself lighter for 
his feet to carry. Now came another complication — 
he must ascend the stairs to get One-Two, who re- 



10 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

fused to come down, as tliougli mistrusting the ad- 
venture — One-Two, wlio had been upon the world 
and knew it; and if the amah heard but one suspi- 
cious sound, she would rush out and end his prospects 
for days and daj's, and the lovely lady would be lost 
to him. But One-Two put liis fore feet down one 
step, and stood with his hind quarters elevated and 
his tail waving, loyal to indissoluble ties, and Hoo 
Cliee saw it even while he pondered the problem. 
And now, Avhen the cat opened wide his mouth, and 
without a noise plainly showed the first anxiety about 
the plighted faith, it was too much : he loved One- 
Two ! 

The Infant crawled stealthily on hands and chubby 
knees up the stairs. One-Two advanced carefully to 
meet him, and was taken into the arms of the child, 
who silenth^, in his clumsy bab}^ fashion, made way 
with his burden back to the door, and out to the 
street. 

Miss Arenam was standing at the summit of the 
liill, looking over the dingy housetops down to the 
bay, which shone in the sun like a strange enamel set 
in momitains. He recognized her figure and the color 
of her dress. He would hurry up the steep incHne 
and go with her. He would find little Quong Sam, 
and play with him in the Glittering House ; for, 
though it was a thousand years since Quong had 
started forth, Avho that had come to the presence of the 
Lady of Cakes and Tea would ever care to leave it? 

He pas.sed other childi-en playing about uncared for. 
They w re dressed in common garb, but he was in his 
best. He wore little shoes with white felt soles, and 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 11 

uppers embroidered in gold, to which came long, loose, 
drab-colored trousers. A skull-cap worked in span- 
gles and prodigal hues came down to his ears, and 
through a neat hole in its crown projected his cuelet, 
ciu-ling away like coal-black smoke from a wigwam. 
His bulky tunic, which reached to his knees, was cov- 
ered with a gingham bib tightly tied with tapes at the 
hips, so that he swelled out hugely above and below 
the waist. Wlien he walked his arms seemed lost in 
his clothes, and his knees bobbed strangely up and 
down. 

Ah, but the hill w^as steep ! Now he understood 
how the youthful Quong had toiled and toiled and 
been discouraged; but Hoo Chee should not quail, 
though heavy One-Two must be changed so frequently 
from arm to arm. He came to a crossing where a 
traction cable rattled terrifically ; and he ran as fast 
as his legs would go to escape the car that was coming 
three blocks away. They had said he did not know ! 

But the lovely lady had slowly walked away, and 
was lost immediately behind the brow of the hill. 
"Was he going to miss her ? No ! He tried to run up 
the incline, and his little heart beat faster and faster. 
At last he reached the top, and saw the hem of her 
blue skirt swish around a corner. Now it was level 
going. He caught his breath, and trotted as fast as he 
could, unaware of the people who turned and smiled. 

When Miss Arenam had gone a few steps do^^^m the 
other side of the hill, on the sharp descent from the 
nabob castles, and had started up the flights of stones 
that led to her father's house, she caught first Mght of 
the Infant. He had paused, and now gazed at her 



12 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

in a mixture of doubt and baslifulness. His tiny fig- 
lu'e, silhouetted against tlie sky at the line of the hill- 
top, was the most entrancing tiling her eyes had met 
that dav. She smiled across the little distance, and 
the Infant smiled in response. When she looked 
again, from farther up, Hoo Chee was hurrying after 
her ; and in a moment he could stare mutely up at her 
with his hand on the open gate. 

"Hello, little gentleman!" said Miss Arenam; 
" won't you come in — and bring your friend ? " 

The Infant could not speak her tongue, but her smile 
was better than words. He tucked One-Two under 
his arm, and labored solemnly up the steps with hand 
and feet, until he halted to gaze in rapture at her from 
nearer than he ever had dreamed. Miss Arenam, 
shining down upon him, threw open the door ; and 
the two went in together, the silent Infant staring at 
her in such intense admiration that she blushed. 

By this time the pallid Hwah Kwee was rushing 
about in breathless search of her lost charge. There 
was no sight of him. She dared not say she had lost 
him ; for if no one knew he might wander safely back, 
but if it were noised abroad some one would snatch 
him up. 

" What shall I do % " wailed the amah to Ching Lo. 
" He has strayed into the vast maze of the city. Hoo 
King will kill me ! " 

" Say that he was stolen — that they knocked you 
senseless." 

" But he will see no mark from the blow," said the 
amah. 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 13 

" Make one ! It is better than a thousand from the 
old di'agon." 

Hwah snatched a broken dish, and struck its jagged 
edge against her forehead. 

" Leave the wound alone ! " cried Ching Lo. " Go 
and lie in a heap near your door, and think what you 
will tell the master. I will say I heard terrible sounds, 
and thought he was beating you.'' 

" If I can only keep him long enough to get his dar- 
ling little noddle, I shall be celebrated," said Miss 
Ai'enam, working rapidly over a moist clay ball. The 
Infant sat on a stool at her feet, holding a fold of her 
skirt, and eyeing her intently. One-Two was lapping 
a dish of cream, and meditating on the exceeding wis- 
dom of this small boy. Frequently Hoo Chee and the 
gu4 exchanged smiles. 

^' But, Bayley," said her mother, " we must find 
whose child he is. Think of the mother w^ho is weep- 
ing for him ! " 

" I 've sent for Gee, mama," said the daughter. The 
clay was taking something the shape of the little nod- 
dle in question. Gee, summoned from the kitchen, 
threw up his hands. 

*'Whey you catch that baby? Who b'long, Miss 
Bayley ? Oh, no ! I doan' like go Chinatown say I 
know whey that baby was. People say I stolee that 
baby — make baily, baily bad for me. Whose boy are 
you ? '^ asked Gee, in Chinese. 

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Hoo Chee, throwing back 
his small head, and pulling at the lady's skirt. It was 
not plain what amused him. 



14 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

*'Now, Gee," said Miss Areuam, '^ I wish to ask liim 
some questions/' 

The servant translated, " What is your name, small 
sir i " The Infant thoug-ht the query originated with 
Gee. 

" Flower-pot," replied the Infant, with a giggle. 

" And what is your fathei-'s name ? " 

^^ Water-pot," said Cliee, with another giggle. 

" And your mother's "? " 

'' Rice-bowl ! '^ shouted the Infant. Then he laughed 
loud and long, while his fat little body shook. Only 
the Chinaman preserved gravity. 

" That baby baily small baby, but great much tell 
lies — allee samee 'Melican boy." 

" I will send a note to the police station," said Mrs. 
Arenam, " and ask them to inquire in Chinatown." 

" I hope they won't find out anything until I have 
finished this — as long as he is happy here. I don't 
think his parents will worry over him. What an 
ohjet d'art he will be for the people this evening ! " 

" Bay ley, your heart is turning to clay with all this 
mud-work. Suppose you had a little son, and he 
should strav awav ! I dare say it wiU be some time 
before his father thinks of asking the police. Those 
Chinese are so stupid about some things. If that 
child is to stay here this evening he must be scrubbed. 
Gee, I want you to give this boy — if it is a boy — a 
bath." 

'' Oh, no ! I no likee. S^pose he die ! That baby 
not old enough to wassee." 

'^ Send for Mrs. Brady, mama," said Bayley. 

Miss Arenam went on with the modeling. The In- 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 15 

fant was still for several moments, while the young 
woman frowned, and stood off from the clay, and 
measured his nose with her little stick, which opera- 
tion he considered most delightful. It was plain that 
he was involved in a mental process. At length he 
lisped doubtfully : 

'' Pay-lee ? " 

'^ Yes, dear," said Bayley ; " that is my name." 

" Pa3'-lee," said the Infant, confidently. He began 
to move about the room, so that she had difficulty in 
working from him. 

'' Come here, little man," she said ; '' I '11 teach you 
some English. Say this : ' Infinitesimal James ' —say 
it : ' Infinitesimal James ! " 

" ' If-itty-teshi-mow Jays,' " repeated the Infant. 
The two smiled ecstatically at each other. 

'^ Now say : ' Had nine iinpronouncealle names.'' " 

" ' Haddee ny up-plo-now-shi-buh nays '—ha ! ha ! '^ 
laughed Hoo Chee. It was a rhyme — like those he 
had heard his father say to Yeo Tsing. 

" Now : ' He wrote them all down, — ' " 

" ^ He lote im aw dow',' " repeated the Infant. One- 
Two looked on from near by. Hoo Chee stood "vvith 
his hands on Miss Arenam's knee, staring straight 
into her eyes. 

With a mortified frown, — ' " 

Witty motti-fy flow,—' " 

And tlireiv the whole lot in the flames!'^' 

A-flew-ty ho-lot-itty flays ! ' Hee ! " 

Very soon he could repeat the lines without prompt- 
ing; and meanwhile Bayley was deftly shaping in 
the soft baU two almond eyes, and a little flat nose, 



a i 
u i 



16 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

and a mouth that opened in a smile, and was to show 
teeth as big as grains of rice. The Infant was en- 
chanted "by the rhyme, and kept on repeating : " If- 
itty-teshi-mow Jays " with happy countenance. Then 
Bayley taught him another verse : 

There vras a little boy, and he was n't very bright, and 
He could n't tell his left from his right hand ; 

So he chawed his dexter paw till the skin was red and raw, 
To remember that the right was the bite hand. 

Then a stout, clear-skinned woman came to the 
door, and held a brief conversation with Miss Ai'e- 
nam, who suggested that Hoo Chee go along with the 
nice lady and enjoy a bath. Mrs. Brady held out her 
big hand to him. But the Infant grappled with aU 
his might to Miss Arenam's skirt, and exclaimed his 
objections in a volume of Chinese baby-talk. He and 
One-Two willingly followed Miss Arenam into the 
tank-room, however, and she left him there with 
Mrs. Brady, closing the door. rather quickly. There 
was a sound of running water, and Hoo Chee, be- 
tween the blue mermaids on the tiles, and curiosity 
at what was to happen in this big, warm room with 
nothing in it but a square porcelain pond, seemed to 
have forgotten his anxiety, especially when the pond 
began to fiU with water, and he searched it earnestly 
for little fishes that looked up from the corners of 
theii^ eyes. 

Miss Arenam stood in her apron, and hummed to 
herself, while she gave the roughly outlined bust 
little dabs with her forefinger. Suddenly there came 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 17 

a frantic shriek from the tank-room, and, hurr^dng in 
that direction^ she heard a small voice shrilling in the 
direst fear : 

'' Pay-lee ! Pay-ay-ay-lee ! " 

" What is the matter ? " she asked, knocking at the 
door. " Have you scalded that child, Mrs. Brady ? " 

^' Scalded nm ! " said Mrs. Bradv, from the other 
side. " I 've just hoisted um into the water, an' he 
won't let go me neck. Take, yer lianas from me hair^ 
ye little imp 1 Did ye never see water f " 

" Pay-lee ! " shouted the Infant, who apparently 
held the situation under control. The top of the tank 
was on a level with the floor, and Mrs. Brady had to 
kneel to it. But then a splash was heard, and the 
anxious Bayley, at the door-knoh, was frightened by 
another mighty screech, 

" Mrs. Brady," protested the girl, tapping the panel, 
" I am sure that water is too hot ; perhaps he is not 
used to hot water." 

" Or cold, either," puffed Mrs. Brady, turning the 
faucet. " Put yer foot down ! (Maybe if ye stay there 
an' talk he 11 be peaceful.) Take it out of yer mouth 

— it ain't sody- water ! Oh, I wish I was yer mother 

— no, I don't ! Now, here comes the shower ! " 
Bayley heard the pattering of many drops, and 

through them, as from a lamb in a rain, many sounds 
in Cantonese, with the wail of " Pay-ay-ay-ay-lee ! " 

" There, Mrs. Brady ! You must have let that water 
•un too long j perhaps he 's chilled." 

" Hot it is," came the answer ; "an' the responsibil- 
^ ty be with you. Noiv ! Maybe if you 'd go away he 'd 
DC quiet." 



18 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

There came a mixtiu-e of scrubbing and yells that 
increased as Hod Chee found that he was not hurt, 
and began to express his anger. He seemed in the 
tortures of pm-gatory. 

" What in the world are you doing to that child to 
make him cry so ? " said Bayley. 

The bath-brush came with a thump to the floor, and 
there was an instant of silence. 

'' Did n't ye tell me to wash um ? " said Mrs. Brady, 
as if the whole matter might have been a mistake. 

" Of course I did ! " said the girl, with much 
warmth. 

'' Well, I 'm tvashin^ um ! " said Mrs. Brady, with 
equal emphasis ; and the scrubbing continued. ^' D' ye 
think I 'm tattooin' um ? Now he 's done it ! He 's 
put a fistful of soap in his eye ! Down ye go ! " 

There was a yell, quickly curtailed, a splash, and 
then a long silence. 

" Mrs. Brady, you are surely not holding that child 
under water all this time ? " 

But Mrs. Brady was already triumphantly applying 
the finishing touches. 

" Now, there ! Ye ain't hurt, are ye ? Ain't ye nice 
an' warm? When ye go home, tell yer mother ye was 
swallowed bv a whale. What ! Ye had little bov ! " 

The Infant had taken One-Two by the scruff of the 
neck, and had doused the unsuspecting cat in the 
water. One-Two came up sneezing and yowling in 
utter dismay. Hoo Chee leaned over and endeavored 
to scrub the cat as Mrs. Brady would have done. 

A few minutes later there was a loud cry of joy. 
One-Two scampered at full speed along the hall, and 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 19 

hid far under a lounge. Hoo Chee burst into the 
room where Bayley was still fashioning the model. 
The Infant glowed under a fresh and delightful sensa- 
tion. He felt like dancing and singing, and presently 
he broke forth : 

Ah you wass — ah you wass ? 
Ah you wass — ah you wass ? 

And Miss Arenam laughed, because she thought the 
child had learned from the streets a popular ditty that 

asked : 

How you was — how you was ? 

The Infant laughed too, and coquetted with the 
lady, and would not let her touch him, but sought to 
be pursued in fun. They chased each other about in 
great glee, equally amused by the sport. At last Bay- 
ley caught him up, and kissed him soundly, and said : 

" You darling child — I love you ! " 

And finally Mrs. Arenam found her daughter in the 
arm-chair, with Hoo Chee fast asleep in her lap, while 
One-Two dried himself in the sun, and tried to recall 
just what had taken place in the tank-room. 

The amah had been revived, and had told her story 
about the three men who tore the child from her arms. 
Half an hour after Hoo King had returned with the 
mother, he locked the women in the rooms, and de- 
scended the stairs with the same expression on his 
face that he had worn all day. He asked other ten- 
ants if they had seen the cat One-Two. The cat had 
strayed away, said the father, and little Hoo Chee was 



20 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

iip-stairs weeping about it. Hoo King would give five 
dollars for its returu. He considered that any one 
who knew about the cat would know about the boy j 
for the two had been stolen together, said Kwee. They 
had discovered that One-Two was a lucky animal, and 
they would keep liini alive and well. In time some 
one would see the cat, even if the boy had been con- 
cealed or murdered. The father went to the various 
haunts of his friends, and repeated his inquiry in a 
careless manner. He weiit, also, to places where there 
were enemies, and where he kept himself ready to be 
attacked bodily, such were the relations of the Tongs 
at that period in Chinatown. When he spoke, he scru- 
tinized his hearers to see if they smiled wisely, or 
otherwise betrayed knowledge of his greater loss. 
But no one seemed even interested. There was noth- 
ing but to wait until the captors approached him for 
a ransom. If he noised the truth, then perhaps the 
hostile Tongs would find the child first and switch 
him away. Nothing would please them better. They 
could take Hoo Chee to Oregon, and keep him until he 
had forgotten his parentage and had been developed 
into a hater of his father's Tong. If the father told 
the police, the newspapers woidd have it next morn- 
ing. Besides, Hwah Kwee could give no clue to the 
men ; they had been too quick. He came home early, 
in an evil mood. Hoo Bee had taken her lilv feet to 
bed, and was sound asleep. 

It was the evening of the month when Miss Are- 
nam entertained her little coterie of souls artistic. 
While the Infant had slumbered above, the hours had 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 21 

passed until the music-room was full of people, and 
they had hushed to hear Miss JoUet sing while Dr. 
Rimpo played an obbligato on the flute. In the mid- 
dle of the song there came from aloft an inquiring 
shriek of ^' Pay-ay-lee ! " followed by the hm-ried pad- 
ding of small, uncertain feet upon the stau-s. Miss 
Arenam blushed, and grasped the arm of her chair. 
Hoo Chee, with One-Two tightly clasped under his 
arm, dashed, shouting, into the room, then paused, 
dazzled by the lights and the number of strange 
faces. But Bayley, in her white dress, shone out from 
all the rest like the main star of a coronet ; and the 
Infant, running joyously up, dropped on his knees be- 
fore her and touched his forehead several times to the 
floor. The music stopped : Dr. Rimpo had laughed 
absm^dly through his flute, and aU the others joined ; 
for the soap of the bath had dried in Hoo Chee's cue, 
which stood up as straight as the stem of a gourd. 

All the ladies exclaimed : 

" Where did you get that beautiful child ? " 

Miss Arenam told the story of the afternoon, while 
the Infant examined all the people, and determined 
that she was the loveliest. 

" Now say the little piece," said Bayley. 

" E-litty peesh ? " repeated the Infant. 

" About the little boy who was n't very bright." 

Hoo Chee deposited One-Two carefully on the floor, 
and, placing his hands on the lady's knee, looked 
straight into her eyes and began : 

" Washee litty poy — washee baily plight-an 
Coutty telle e left flommy light-an ; 
So-ey shawdy-dexy paw — " 



22 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

Here he stopped for breatli — 

" — tilly tinny leddy law, 
To lemmemy latty lightee wasliee bite-an ! " 

Here the company broke into great applause, in which 
the Infant joined. 

" ' If-itty-teshi-niow Jays," began the young person 
as soon as he could be heard ; and he finished the Hues 
without a break. There was more applause and laugh- 
ter, and the ladies thronged to kiss the boy, while 
Bayley strove in vain to overcome the stiffness of his 

cue. 

The song mth the obbligato was begun afresh, and 
the evening went on with music. When Miss Arenam 
sang a Spanish ballad the Infant insisted on standing 
at her side, with One-Two under his arm, and staring 
up at her with open mouth, while his ears drank in 
her lovely voice. Next she sang the " Angel's Sere- 
nade," accompanied by the flute and violin. A strange 
sight then was the face of Hoo Chee. Never in his 
hfe had he heard anything like this. Perhaps he 
feared that Miss Arenam was only a di'eam and might 
vanish from him, lea\dng him to wake at the sum- 
mons of the amah ; for he clutched the lovely lady's 
dress, as if to stay her from moving, and then slowly 
the corners of his mouth drew down, and one, two, 
three came the tears in his upturned eyes, until they 
swam his sight away, and he stuck his little, hard pig- 
tail into a fold of the angel's gown, and sobbed. 

Thus again was the music interrupted. 

" You darling child ! What is the matter ? " cried 
Bayley, taldng him maternally in her arms. 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 23 

" Bayley," said lier mother, suddenly, " tliat child 
has not eaten a mouthful since he came to this house! " 

^' Oh, mama ! " cried the girl, rushing off with him 
to the dining-room. 

" How strange," said the mother, " that his parents 
have not inquired of the police, and been sent here ! " 

The Infant was left with Gee, who brought him a 
bowl of rice and some dainties i)rescribed by the lovely 
lady. Gee did not regard him with favor ; for in their 
colloquy the boy had given him a ^' bad face " before 
the ladies of the house. Now, while Hoo Chee sat in 
a high chair at the vast table, much engrossed with 
filling a want which his previous excitement had made 
him ignore, Gee tried again to find out who he was. 
But the Infant had a very clearly defined pm'pose to 
conceal that much, and he answered most of the que- 
ries with the f orgetf ulness of a great capitalist on the 
witness-stand. At length the servant said in disgust : 

" If you don't tell me your name, I '11 whip you ! " 

" If you do, I '11 call her," said Hoo Chee, with a 
small frown ; '' and she '11 cut your head off ! '^ 

Gee made no attempt to carry out his threat, but 
instead went and whistled down to the basement. 
There was a galloping of claws and a sudden cocking 
of One-Two's ears. In a moment the cat's back arched 
into the most astonishing shape Hoo Chee had ever 
seen it take, and One-Two stood in a corner confronted 
by the small dog of the household. Prrout shared in 
the general surprise, and was half inclined to treat 
One-Two as an occurrence too interesting for malice. 
But Gee urged him on, and plainly indicated that the 
cat was an enemy to be destroyed. The Chinaman 



24 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

foresaw that the results might be disastrous to him- 
seK should the facts reach Miss Bayley j so he went 
discreetly below-stairs, where he found awaiting him 
his friend Lee Sing. 

To resist sho^Wng Lee what sport was about to hap- 
pen was too much for Gee's mood, and, grinning, he 
conducted his friend to where they could look 
through, and get a glimpse of the corner of the din- 
ing-room. One-Two, with bristling hair, was hunched 
in battle array, his eyes glaring into those of the 
enemy, who moved cautiously from side to side, wag- 
ging his tail in anxious respect for the cat's sharp 
claws. The Infant, whom the Chinamen could not 
see, had dropped his bowl, and stared upon the scene 
in the greatest wonder. In a moment he decided that 
his dear One-Two was in peril, and he immediately 
struggled dovm from the high chair to go to the res- 
cue. Gee, hearing the noise, closed the door. He did 
not wish anv Chinaman to know about the child : for 

V 7 

if it was the son of a person hostile to Gee's Tong, 
then, no matter what happened. Gee Avould become 
the object of violence as the one responsible for an 
injury either effected or attempted. Only a China- 
man in Chinatown can understand. 

"That cat is like one our Hoo King lost to-day," 
said Lee. " He offers five dollars for its return. It 
belongs to his little boy, Hoo Chee. Strange that a 
man should offer so much for a cat -, but Hoo King 
makes money." 

Gee received this information with a quickened 
mind. He was a member of Hoo King's Tong. He 
said nothing, but presently excused himself, and sent 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 25 

Lee Sing on his way. Gee came half-way up the 
stairs and called : 

'' Hoo Chee ! " 

" What ? " said the Infant, gnilelessly. 

The Chinaman laughed softly and retii-ed. Then 
he slipped out, and ran over to the police station. 
There they telephoned to the Chinatown squad. 

The Infant made straight for the dog. 

" Go away, bad devil dog ! " he said in Chinese, 
raising his smaU fists threateningly. Before Prrout 
had recovered from the novelty of this little figure 
Hoo Chee had snatched One- Two in his arms, and 
with difiiculty had boosted him up to the high table. 
Then the Infant climbed back to his chair, where he 
leisurely finished his rice, stopping after each mouth- 
ful to let One-Two take his share from the bowl. 
Prrout after a while gave up his watch on them, and 
ran to find his mistress, who promptly sent him back 
to the basement. 

Miss Arenam's evenings were always delightful. 
She was like California, thrilling and inspiring the 
charming people of many climes, and her guests in- 
variably found the midnight come too soon. Now 
Mr. Paxton uncovered his new etching, and the talk 
having turned to art. Miss Arenam was persuaded to 
exhibit the unfinished bust of the Infant. It was 
placed in the front drawing-room, on a pedestal bor- 
rowed from one of the marbles, and the people 
thronged to admire it. 

In the dining-room the smaU model, having eaten 
until One-Two refused to accept any more, and until 
he himseK was compelled to desist with sighs, stuffed 



26 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

much of what remained into the broad pocket that 
ran across the breast of his bib. Then he got down 
once more, and proceeded with lordly content to in- 
spect this part of the premises. What a funny place 
that was behind the screen — a long, low-opening in 
the wall, with u-on things, tipped, he thought, with 
golden knobs, resting at its bottom on a level with 
the floor, and, at the back, a wall of bricks built up 
like stairs. Some day he could easily crawl in there 
and climb up and see where it led to. How bright 
and cheerful compared to the gloomy chambers on 
Dupont street! And what a wilderness of curious 
things ! Those lights, fifty times as brilliant as the pea- 
nut oil- wicks of home, how they dazzled one ! They 
— why, why — this was the House of Glittering 
Things! And she— was the Lady of Cakes and 
Tea! Why had he not thought? Oh, joy! This 
was the goal for which he had set out — and oh, how 
many, manv weary miles he had walked ! But he had 
found it. He woidd stay here forever, and the Lady 
would give him cakes and tea, and he Avould play and 
play — where was little Quong Sam? Did Quong 
have a One- Two ? He would ask Gee. No ; he would 
run and find Pav-lee — she would be truthful. 

A bell had rung, and Gee had gone through to the 
front door. The Infant paused. In a moment he 
heard a voice which sent a chiU through his body. 
It said in Chinese : 

" Is a little boy — Hoo Chee — here ? " 

" Yes," said Gee. " If you will give me the reward 
I will give you the cat, too." 

Hoo Chee, standing behind the door with One-Two 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 27 

in his arms, knew the voice as well as he knew the 
color of his bib. Bayley came into the hall ; he heard 
her say things in English. He could not understand 
them; but something in the tones made his heart 
sink. Was he to be taken away from her — back to the 
damp and darksome prison of three rooms? Never! 

" There is a little lost Chinese boy here," said Bay- 
ley ; " but how shall I be sure he belongs to you ? " 

Through Gee, Hoo King described his offspring. 

^' Yeh," said King, in answer to Mr. Arenam ; " him 
gottee one litty mole und' him chin, an' one litty mole 
und' him ear." 

" Let us examine the child," said Mr. Arenam. 

Bayley went into the dining-room. Only the small 
dog greeted her. Gee had left the door open. The 
child was not to be found. They called his name, but 
there was no reply. She sent Gee down to the serv- 
ants' quarters, and went herself up-stairs, while the 
guests peered under the furniture. 

Hoo King grew uneasy. Perhaps this was a ruse 
to gain time. He stepped in from the hall. Before 
him on the pedestal was the cold head of his son — of 
the color of clay. They had slain his only child! 
There were no eyes; they had ground them up to 
make photographs ! 

" What for ! what for ! " cried the wretched father, 
laying his trembling hands on the pedestal, while his 
knees nearly sank under him. He moaned many 
words in Chinese. The searchers collected, thinking 
the child had been found. Gee explained the cause of 
the old man's grief, and tried ta calm his fears. The 
dog barked, and ran toward the dining-room, stopping 



28 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 

every moment and wagging his tail. Bajdey hui'ried 
distractedly for another look at the spot where she 
had left the Infant. The dog danced about the fli*e- 
place, barking up the chimney in extravagant excite- 
ment. Miss Arenam heard the mewing of a cat. 

" He cannot have climbed up there. Gee ! Come 
here ! " 

Gee inserted his head in the chimney space and re- 
ceived a kick in the nose from a small felt sole. Then 
he drew forth a little shoe. 

^' Pay-lee ! " implored the Infant from the dark 
cavern. 

Then One-Two and the defeated child were puUed 
from the chimney, covered from head to foot \\dth 
soot. The Infant was weeping bitterly. The father 
hurriedly grasped the cat. 

" Ah ! " he cried joyously. " It is one good-luck 
cat ! " 

'' Pay-Zee / " beseeched the blackened child. He ran 
to her with grimy, outstretched hands, his eyes quite 
bhnd with, tears. 

" Your dress, my dear ! " warned her mother. 

But Bayley thought only of her unhappy little 
guest. She quickly took him in her arms and kissed 
his quivering mouth again and again. The contact 
soiled the silk gown beyond repair. 

The father rudelv snatched his son away, and made 
for the door. 

" Pay- Zee / " implored Hoo Chee, reaching out his 
hands in vain. ^' Pay-a-lee ! " Then he wept afresh, 
as if his heart would break 5 and the street door closed 
upon him. 



THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 29 

"What a dreadful — dreadful shame!" said Miss 
Arenam, her eyes filling. '^ I — I dou't think they 
treat him well at home. I — " 

Then she went away to where they could not see 
her. 

The amah was asleep. Hoo King deposited the 
child on the mattress at her side. For most of the 
way Hoo Chee had hung listless in his arms. 

" Go to sleep with your little cat/' said the father, 
somewhat tenderly. ''It is a good little cat, is it 
not ? " 

" Yes," sniffed Hoo Chee, slowly ; '^ but — I wish — " 

Then he was silent. The father retired to his room. 

The child lay for a while staring up into the grim 
darkness, and heard the familiar spip-spop of the fau- 
cet in the sink. Then his mouth began to twitch, and 
he thought of the Lady of Cakes and Tea and the 
glorious House of Glittering Things. For a long time 
he cried softly to himself, while One-Two sat won- 
dering. 

Finally, the Infant's eyelids grew heavier and 
heavier, and his breathing less interrupted by sighs. 
At last sweet weariness came down and gently closed 
the big, brown eyes ; and he forgot his troubles, and 
floated away, dreaming that he was a httle fish in a 
pond with white porcelain banks, and was behind a 
stone, looking up out of the corners of his eyes at a 
tiny boy who held a cat. 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES 




HEN the grim ancestral joss of the 
Hoos led the family in an exit to a 
different domicile, the years of the 
Infant Hoo Chee were yet five. It 
was true that now he had the pride 
of silken strings to lengthen out his 
cue. But since the time when he 
had toddled away in pursuit of a lovely American 
girlj with whom he had wished to dwell forever in 
her home, which he called the House of Glittering 
Things, and since the moment when Hoo King had 
torn him from her whom the Infant called the Ladv 
of Cakes and Tea, Hoo Chee had been more circum- 
scribed than ever. Many a vision of that house and 
of that lady had been his as he seemed to be wistfully 
watching the humming world from the lofty flower- 
pot balcony. And no one but his meditative cat, One- 
Two, was solemn in the Infant's confidence, or knew 
the weight of his woe. 

But on that day when the joss came down from 
the wall the few old smoky rooms were left as memo- 
ries, and the father, Hoo King, and the mother and 
the amah walked away in the clear air, with Hoo Chee 
bearing the doubtful One-Two in his arms. Soon the 
Infant found himself in a second story, whence he 

3 33 



34 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES 

looked upon a yard impossibly great, he thought — a 
yard as long as a cloud. It dissolved in the gloaniing 
as he gazed in awe, with his chin just over the win- 
dow-sill, and he waked in the morning denying it. 
But w^hen he found it true, he rushed shouting down 
the stairs, one step at a time, and shouting into its 
vast freedom, where One-Two scampered in giddy 
circles with his tail in mirthful curves. Here was a 
roaming ground for all duration, and earth to dig, 
and straggling weeds, and sticks and stones. It mat- 
tered not what castles lay beyond ; here was a park 
that equaled the House of Glittering Things ! 

There was one restriction : he must never have aught 
to do with the women who lived on the other side of 
the fence, commanded Hoo King, for reasons of his 
own. They were Sum Chow's women — Sum Chow, 
who had the curio-shop, and opposed the traffic in 
women slaves by the Tong which Hoo King ruled. 
But women whom the Infant neither feared nor loved 
did not concern him in his hours in the yard. The 
marvel of his liberty filled his mind ; it lost him his 
appetite and some of his sleep for quite two days, 
whereafter he ate like a knight returned, and slept as 
hard as a horse can gallop, to be up and out, with 
One-Two at his heels, catching the dew and the dawn. 
In the other place on the balcony, never a smallest 
finger might be laid on the stalk of a lily, nor a fea- 
ther be drawn across one smooth green leaf, without 
discovery; here, first of all, he pulled up a tuft of 
grass, and saw its little white legs that walked in the 
soil ; and this was a secret in his bosom. Then be- 
hind the shed, which he called the Gruesome Go- 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 35 

down, after the place where the doughty little Quong 
Sam, of a story he knew, had been impounded by a 
Sarcastic Turtle that stood between Quong Sam and 
the House of Glittering Things; behind the Grue- 
some Go-down was a spot where One-Two suggested 
by scratches that they dig, which they did. The In- 
fant made mountains and valleys with an iron spoon, 
so clever he was, and he threw a pasteboard bridge 
across a river-bed, and by it built an Important Town, 
where the avenues were shaded by cabbage-leaf trees, 
and where One-Two drilled wilful worms and rebel- 
lious bugs as citizens. 

From a window in Sum Chow's the learned Dr. 
Wing Shee, that soothsayer whom all Chinatown re- 
spected, occasionally observed the Infant's serious 
labors, and grew to like Hoo Chee. The industry 
which now was seen to thrive near the Important 
Town was mining — in a pile of debris as high as the 
Infant's self ; and surely, in all the vast precincts of 
the House of Glittering Things, no more absorbing, 
dignifying occupation might be found ! With One- 
Two's artful nasal divination they brought forth varied 
bits of crockery that, when polished with One-Two's 
ear, became as brilliant as other gems ; and they drew 
out many an odd fabric and buried relic that told of 
bygone times and the domestic economies of extinct 
houses. The Infant could not stuff them all in the 
pocket that ran across the chest of his bib. The 
choicest was a big green ring, like those the grown 
folks wore, which the Infant squeezed as a love token 
over the unwilling head of One-Two, who thence sat 
apart, outwardly magnificent, but filled with supersti- 



36 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

tious brooding-. One-Two's splendor paraded tlie In- 
fant's dreamland, and when in the morning he found 
that the mother had seized the bangle for her own 
bedizenment, a first black shadow fell across his shin- 
ing new^ world. This was not like the House of Glit- 
tering Things. There the Lady of Cakes and Tea 
made peace and security for every one. He wished 
they would give him back his big green ring — just 
to play with; but they never would. He went and 
sat silently on his Important Town, with the corners 
of his mouth drawn down verv far. 

It was not like the House of GHttering Things, be- 
cause here the days often promised happiness w^hen 
they meant to end in sorrow. Once, while he played 
Bad Old iMan with One-Two, there came a shower, 
and One-Two ran to shelter, shaking moist paws, to 
stand astounded at the antics of Hoo Chee. The In- 
fant pranced with open mouth, delighting in the 
smart drops on his cheeks. It was superfine ! And 
it was a headlong pitch from bliss to find himself 
pushed rudely into the house by his father. Up the 
stairs Hoo Chee must hurry, and Hoo Chee must stay 
to dry by the rice-pan-coals, w^hile the rain made 
merry music, glistening and beating on the panes as 
if to ask why this little boy would not come out to 
play. And he wondered if the rain knew the Lovely 
Lady who had a deep, warm porcelain pond, and even 
urged people into it. Then the calm of another morn- 
ing brought him the joy of a rusty pan a-brim with 
water, which must at once be made a lake for his Im- 
portant Town ; for the pan needed only a little fish to 
be perfect. But the little fish that after all day's 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 37 

strategy he managed to borrow from the amah's 
basket would not wag its tail and swim in the pan ; 
and though he hid behind a corner and peeped ever so 
quickly out at it, still it floated disgracefully stiff on 
its side with its mouth stark wade. This would have 
been another bootless day ; but the learned Dr. Wing 
Shee, who read your heart from your face as surely as 
he read the future from the stars, observed the Infant's 
listlessness, and came to the fence with a kindlv smile. 
They talked of the wind and the sky, and the doctor 
promised to tell Hoo Chee some day the story of how 
the " Wretched Dragon Made the Sun Wobble." 

" And I '11 tell you about the Sarcastic Turtle," said 
the Infant. 

It was not wrong to talk to a man, and the women 
Hoo Chee had not seen. The women were Sum Fay 
— Sum Chow's wife, and their daughter, Sum Oo, 
whom a beautiful American patron had once addressed 
as Miss Oo, which had become Sum Oo's pet appel- 
lation. 

There came love's month of May. The rains had 
ceased, and the skies were passing fair. The city 
lawns shone everywhere with summer plants; but Hoo 
King's yard was barren save of weeds. The learned 
Dr. Wing Shee, once looking over into the desolate 
space, threw a handful of seeds among the hills and 
valleys by the Important Town, where the cabbage- 
leaf trees lay pelted into the earth. Out of the doc- 
tor's pri\nlege grew a garden for a child. The sun 
touched the place with magic, and the Infant saw 
with amazement his territorv transformed. A morn- 

3* 



38 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

ing-glory shot out of the ground, and ran hand over 
hand up a broomstick, shaking out its tender blooms 
like banners. A beautiful yellow nasturtium raced 
up following, and its blossoms bobbed in the breeze 
to One-Two and Hoo Chee, as they stood and won- 
dered at it. The Infant must march with exagger- 
ated steps, singing : 

Pcely mow-wow — pilly willy icop ! Peelj mow- wow — pilly 
willy wop ! 

which were words of his own invention. In such 
luxurv of two kinds of flowers one imagined oneself in 
a bower of the House of Glittering Things, with the 
Lady of Cakes and Tea within call. 

And the warm day arrived when the Infant, sitting 
on the ground in speculation as to whether a Wretched 
Dragon was as big as a cloud, heard a new sound. It 
was a delicious sound. It was not a bird. It came from 
the other side of the fence, — tones unlike any he had 
heard, — and it kept saying, joyously and gurglingly 
and fascinatingly, '' Yai-yai-yah ! Yai-yai-yah ! '' which 
was clearly an expression of delight with all the world. 
The Infant hastened to the fence. The merry " yai- 
yai-yah '' kept on with a relish of life in it impossible 
except for one whose title to her big green ring en- 
dured un threatened. The Infant forgot about whether 
a Wretched Dragon was as large as a cloud or only 
as large as some land, and he stood with his hands on 
the fence, looking up at the tall boards that shut the 
sweet sounds away. The tiny voice sang to itseK and 
talked to an older voice near by; all in the same 
pleased syllables. At length it subsided to a con- 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 39 

tented coo, and then it was still, and it did not come 
again. But it lingered in the Infant's ears like strange 
new music. At dusk he paused solemnly at the door- 
step ; he wished they might know that over here was 
a little Hoo Chee and his cat. But they were gone, 
and they would never know. Then, to his own as- 
tonishment, he dared to shout, " Yai-yai-yah ! '' where- 
upon he hastened up the stairs, frightened at his 
boldness. 

He dreamed that the Sarcastic Turtle came and 
promised to let him stand on it to see over the fence. 
And the turtle crawled and crawled with the ever ex- 
pectant Hoo Chee on its back, but the fence was 
always just so far away. And the turtle kept laugh- 
ing and laughing, and bidding him rise on tiptoe, till 
the Infant awoke frowning, with his toes in tight 
bunches. 

In the morning he and One-Two ran speedily into 
the yard; but it was too early for the little voice. 
All the brilliant forenoon he listened for it, as he 
pulled the shed hairs from One-Two's coat, and laid 
them one by one away in a little box ; some one had 
said that the cat would need its hair again when the 
cold rains came. He would keep the box in the 
ginger- jar, where he hid his treasures now, and the 
ginger-jar should go in a secret place inside the Grue- 
some Go-down. Then, in the afternoon, and none too 
soon, he made a grand discovery. It was a knot-hole 
in the dividing-fence. 

He looked upon a place where many flowers were, 
and the grass grew all of one^ height, like soldiers. 
And presently came out Sum Chow's young wife 



40 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

bearing a mat. Behind her trotted a little dame of 
scarce three summers carrying a fat cloth cat. It 
was Miss Oo, and the Infant knew she was a girl, be- 
cause she wore her tiny braids in two little horns that 
were part of her spangled cap. The Infant saw the 
mother leave Miss Go to play alone upon the mat 
that lay on the grass. These, then, were the women 
of Sum Chow, who were to be avoided. 

Miss Oo sat down and made remarks in her own 
pecuUar language to the fat cloth cat, and emphasized 
them by shaking it up and down by the tail. Then 
she rolled over and kicked her inhnitesimal feet in the 
air, and murmured demurely : 

'' Yai-yai ! " 

Her eyes traveled along the clear sky until they 
met the sun. They looked without winking straight 
into the glittering ball, iu solemn satisfaction that 
it should be there, and for a long time there was no 
movement in her contented body but the occasional 
wiffffle of a raised and bandied foot cased in a silver- 
trimmed slipper as big as an ear. The Infant stood 
tic^ht to the fence, fascinated bevond measure. In all 
the adventures of little Quong Sam, from the begin- 
ning to the hero's arrival at the House of Glittering 
Thino-s, there was nothino' so delectable as this! Now 
it was occurring to Miss Go that the sun made her 
warm and happy, and that it was a good sun. A smile 
began at her coal-black eyes, and ran down and tugged 
at the curling corners of her ample mouth, until her 
brown face was all aglee; and she kicked and laughed 
and shook the fat cloth cat and shouted : 
'^ Yai-yai -yah ! Yai-yai- yah ! " 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 41 

Then she turned on lier side, and in a few moments 
she had gone asleep with her thumb in her mouth, 
and the memory of the smile remaining on her round 
cheeks, while Hoo Chee and the cloth cat stared and 
stared and stared. 

All the next day the Infant sought the fence at the 
slightest sound ; but there were clouds, and Miss Oo 
came onlv when the sun invited. The clouds made 
him sad, and the day dragged like a faint headache. 
His night's slumber was invaded by a tiny maid car- 
ried in a splendid car, with all the background a 
gorgeous yellow blur of priests and gods. And the 
tiny maid shook a fat cat at Hoo Chee, and said, 
^' Yai-yai-yah ! " whereupon Hoo Chee stepped into the 
car with her. But just as they began to play Bad 
Old Man the car changed into tissue paper, and they 
fell through it and slid terrifically down the clouds, 
and the wee maid disappeared. And another night, 
just as a red toy-balloon was floating him over the 
fence, a Wretched Dragon, that was bigger than some 
land, gleefully gulped the balloon ; and Hoo Chee and 
the tiny maid tugged and tugged at the string that 
hung from the Wretched Dragon's mouth — until it 
had a fit, and writhed and wriggled and shrieked so 
that the Sun Wobbled in the sky, whereupon the 
string broke, and Hoo Chee and the tiny maid sat 
down together very hard with the string in their 
hands, and he awoke to find her gone. 

But the next day the clouds dissolved, and the sun 
sailed on as if nothing had occurred, and after he 
had tarried for hours by the fence he saw the proces- 
sion of the mother and the mat and Miss Oo and the 



42 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

fat cloth cat. The lufant watched Miss Oo playing, 
and cooing, and rolling in the sun, till he wondered 
how it was that little Quong Sam had succeeded in 
crawling through the bamboo pole when he wanted 
to get on the other side of the wall; and Hoo Chee 
made a little sound with a stick on the fence. Miss 
Oo turned to listen, and when he knocked again she 
discovered the knot-hole. The Infant's heart gave a 
funny jump; she had stood up, and was coming to 
examine the fence. 

*•' Little eye ! " she said. 

Whereupon Hoo Chee felt a hand upon him, and 
was whirled away from her sight. 

" Go into the house, fool offspring ! " exclaimed his 
father. '^ If you gossip with that girl again I '11 keep 
you out of this yard for a thousand years ! " 

Hoo King pushed the stick through the knot-hole, 
and Miss Oo grasped it, unaware of the tragedy just 
enacted on the other side. When he drove it hard 
through, that it might not be withdrawn, a splinter 
caught in the small maid's finger. It did not hurt 
much, but she felt that something was wrong, and 
with her finger held up she trotted off to find her 
mother. Hoo Chee had gone with little steps into the 
house, with the corners of his mouth drawn down 
very far, hurrying as if something pursued him. A 
thousand years! The penalty was fearful even to 
think of, and it hovered around him for hours, like 
an oppressive spirit bound at last to drag him to de- 
spair. In a thousand years the Important Town 
would go to ruin, and lie at the mercy of the Mon- 
strous Rat that lived in the Gruesome Go-down ; in a 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 43 

thousand years One-Two would tire of staying in- 
doors, and would go away and seek the sun and the 
fresh air and the fat cloth cat. And Hoo Chee would 
gaze out of the window and see Miss Oo and the two 
cats playing and playing and playing, and only once 
perhaps in a hundred years would they remember 
and look for Hoo Chee's mournful face behind the 
pane. It was true that all this was only a threat, but 
he felt it closing upon him as if it was real. He 
wished he knew how to find the Lady of Cakes and 
Tea. 

He thought of it the next morning as he rummaged 
in the Go-down, which first had stood so high in the 
attractions of the yard, because it was doubtless owned 
by the Monstrous Rat, with whom he had expected 
many a sanguinary joust before he conquered it. 
But now he had forgotten about the Rat. The dim 
interior, piled with dusty crates and packing-boxes 
long disused, was suited to his mood. Among the 
empty boxes he had discovered a light one which he 
could handle, and back of it he had found another, 
much larger, into which by crawling a distance one 
could squeeze and be quite out of the world. A loos- 
ened board on the side of the Go-down that fronted 
on a strange yard let a shaft of sunlight into this re- 
treat, and as he sat there he meditated breaking off 
relations with his family, and abiding there perman- 
ently, to sally only at night. But a few minutes of 
such life told him of its loneliness. He emerged, and 
for want of occupation trundled the lighter box into 
the yard. 

How this box would have been used, if it had not 



44 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

been for tlie awful threat, the Infant knew. Its awk- 
ward dimensions would have been struggled with un- 
til it was finally mastered and made to stand against 
the fence — so ! And then it would have been easy 
to bring that little fruit crate and hoist it on top — so ! 
After that it was baby's play to fetch these flower- 
pots and fit them — so and so and so — one ov^er the 
other, till, boxes and all, they made a tower half as 
high as the fence! It was an imposing structure, 
hidden behind the Gruesome Go-down ; and he wanted 
to show himself how he would have climbed up on it 
— if it had not been for the thousand years ! All you 
had to do, you see, was to step on the big box — so! 
Then it was easy enough to reach the small box, and 
you caught hold — like this — of the bit of frayed 
rope nailed to the fence, and simply pulled yourself 
up to the fence-top — like that; and — oh, dear — 
there she was ! 

He stood breathless. Miss Oo lay asleep with her 
thumb in her mouth, and the fat cloth cat lay in the 
sitting attitude confirmed of fat cloth cats. A tall 
calla lily bent and nodded its benison upon Miss Oo, 
and her parted lips showed peeping teeth like rows of 
little novices. 

Suddenly she startled the Infant by opening her 
eyes directly upon him. For an instant she caught 
his full stare; but his glance fell away, and his tongue 
searched the corners of his mouth. He dared not look 
at her. Miss Oo began to smile. 

'' Little eye ! " she said. 

And the Infant twisted himself in such confusion 
that he w^as in danger of falling from the flower-pots 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 45 

into an ignominious heap in the middle of the Im- 
portant Town. Miss Oo kept looking straight at him, 
and he would not meet her eyes, but looked quite 
over her and beyond, at space. She crawled some 
way, then rose and came toward the fence. 

'' Little boy ? " she inquired. 

Which so embarrassed the Infant that he sank down 
out of view, leaving nothing visible to Miss Oo but eight 
small grimy finger-tips on the fence-top. Womanlike, 
she made no effort to get him back, but waited in 
silence until the Infant began to wonder if she had 
gone, and he found courage to haul himself to see. 
She was there, sitting on the grass, absorbed in the 
finger-tips. At sight of him, the big smile came again. 

"Miss Oo^^ she said. 

Which frightened him so that he sank down once 
more. But as he sat in cover, and heard nothing 
from Miss Oo, he was at length moved to say, but 
little above a whisper : 

" Yai-yai ! " 

Whereupon Miss Oo responded with a giggle in her 
smaU voice, " Yai-yai-yah ! " and the Infant could not 
refrain from calling back in louder tones, '' Yai-yai- 
yaJi 1 " which Miss Oo repeated each time louder than 
the Infant, so that soon the merry contest of their 
voices had risen to such screams that it reached the 
ears of Hoo King. Hoo Ghee's diffidence departed, 
and Miss Oo seemed charmed. When they were tired 
of shouting she searched her small collection of words. 
When Miss Oo liked people she talked to them. 

" Rice cake ? " she said, after ^ moment. 

The Infant bethought him of the pocket of his 



46 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

bib, and found therein a bean-meal cookie, which he 
promptly dropped into her lap. Miss Oo immediately 
began to devour it while Hoo Chee waited. 

"Little girir' he inquired at length in her own 
manner. 

But she was too busy to answer. She looked at 
him over the cookie with two grave eyes, while the 
particles of bean-meal collected about her mouth. The 
Infant yearned for more conversation. He smiled 
engagingly and shouted " Yai-yai-?/«7i ! " and kicked 
the boai'ds for her attention. But when Miss Oo 
looked up again she saw not even the eight grimy 
fingers. The flower-pots had given away, and the en- 
tire edifice of his love had fallen, bringing him to the 
ground in a mixture of boxes and broken clay. He 
had bumped his head, too, and his eyes filled with 
tears. Oh, if the Lovely Lady had been there he 
would have run to her and cried in the folds of her 
gown, and she would have comforted him, and taken 
him up in her arms ? But instead he heard the voice 
of his father. He must not weep ; he would need his 
tears. The thousand years were coming. He should 
never see the fence again, and there would n't be 
even a flow^er-pot balcony for him to come out on. 
His heart thumped against his ribs, and his pallor was 
evident even to his father. 

But Hoo King did not suspect the gravity of the 
offense, and the penalty was merely that the boxes 
and the fragments all must be removed to the shed 
whence Hoo Chee had fetched them. The labor which 
had been lightened by novelty and by a magnetic at- 
traction that had governed his will without a protest 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 47 

now became an endless evil toil, and when it was 
finished Hoo Chee was well nigh exhausted. Miss 
Go had long ago been taken into the house, explain- 
ing the crumbs of bean-meal on her face with the 
words, " Little boy.'' The Infant went to sleep with- 
out a thought of supper, dreaming that he was an 
executioner, and must keep chopping off a head that 
forever flew up in the air and flew back, tight to its 
body. 

When he came into the yard once more he was in 
no frame of mind to play Bad Old Man with One- 
Two. How gloomy the yard was, anyway, thought 
the Infant. It was a prison, where one might never 
do what one liked most. Oh, if the Lady of Cakes 
and Tea would but come and take him to the house 
where all was light and freedom and peace ! He went 
off in a reverie of her, and of the wonderful ]3orcelain 
pond where, if one was not too frightened to search, 
there were probably funny little wiggly fishes and 
hoppity frogs. He was interrupted by the man who 
peddled the flesh of the abalone, and who came through 
the gate to interview Hoo King, whose wrath at being 
disturbed sent the abalone man away, leaving the gate 
ajar for revenge. The Infant saw the forbidden street, 
and turned his back, for it invited him to run away. 
With a weary spirit, he absently made pictures of rice- 
cakes with a stick in the main street of his Important 
Town. 

The abalone man had gone to Sum Chow's and 
seemed to be doing business there. The steps which 
the Infant heard outside were not the abalone man's ; 
they were too light. It was some one coming into 



48 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

Hoo Chee's yard — a woman probably — some woman 
humming to herself in a quiet way. The Infant 
scratched out the rice-cakes, and tried to make a pic- 
ture of the golden fruit the Lady had given him. One- 
Two had gone to the gate. The small hum stopped, 
and the Infant heard a little voice : 

'' Yai-yai ? '^ 

His heart beat in his throat. There she was. 
She stood, with a bright smile, well inside the gate, 
bearing the fat cloth cat. One-Two was sniffing the 
extraordinary phlegmatic creature with the stuffed 
tail, and Miss Oo was pausing for welcome. The In- 
fant sat rooted with fear, giving no sign. Miss Oo 
waited but a moment; then she came and laid her 
hand upon his cheek. 

" Miss Oo f " she said. 

The wee fingers were veiy soft, and the big black 
eyes looked straight at him in frankest liking. But 
the abalone man was coming, with his noisy cry. 
The father might think to have a glance at the yard 
— and it would mean a thousand years ! The Infant 
did not know how to make her go away. In his heart 
he wanted her to stay. The im^mlse to hide away 
with her came upon him like an instinct, and he took 
her hand and led her into the Gruesome Go-down. 

He would crawl and show her into the packing-box ; 
she had followed him so trustfully. He picked his way 
over the flower-pots and behind the boxes to where 
he squeezed through the long and well-concealed pas- 
sage to his cubbyhole, and Miss Oo, holding the fat 
cloth cat, followed at his heels as a matter of course. 
She crawled into the big box and arranged herself 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 49 

close beside him, while he eyed her with half -prevail- 
ing pleasure. One-Two sat before them gazing con- 
temptuously at the fat cloth cat. Miss Oo looked 
about her and was deeply pleased. 

" Little house ? " she said sweetly. 

Hoo King was outside. He went to the gate, then 
came back and looked for a moment into the shed, 
then went again to the gate.- He called sternly to the 
abalone man across the street. Then Hoo King ham- 
mered at Sum Chow's open gate, and there was pre- 
sently a hurried conversation half audible to the two 
in the cubbvhole. With one accord Miss Oo and the 
Infant remained silent, and in a short while the voices 
subsided and were forgotten. 

The Infant found his precious ginger-jar, and he 
began to show his treasures — the many bits of col- 
ored crockery, and pins, and buttons and scraps of 
cloth, and every odd and end from the debris pile that 
had a brilliant hue or shape unusual. The smaU girl 
cooed, and reached for them as he silently handed 
them over one by one. Then he put them all back in 
the jug, where the box of One-Two's fur lay securely 
tied, and Miss Oo took the jar and rattled its contents, 
and threw it down, laughing at Hoo Ghee's efforts not 
to lose the treasures when they scattered about the 
floor. Each time the good-natured Infant laboriously 
collected them all, the box of hair first, and each time 
the maiden rattled the jug and threw it down again. 
Miss Oo's attention was drawn from it only by a big 
cookie that dropped from Hoo Chee's bib. 

" Little cake ? " she said, holding out her hand. 

He gave it to her, and received the ginger- jar in 



50 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

retui'u. She insisted that he take a bite with each of 
hers, and Hoo Chee, though he was not hungry, must 
accept when she stared at him and thrust the cookie 
under his nose. For him the cookie was not a suc- 
cess ; it was almost like medicine. Conflicting emo- 
tions greatly disturbed him within, for all his pleasure 
in this lovely comrade. Now Miss Oo was busying 
herself with baring her feet of her tiny shoes, an 
act forbidden by her mother. Her glee at this quite 
drowned the Infant's trouble for a while. Hoo Chee 
must take his shoes off too, and it was hilarious fun 
to put them on Miss Oo's smaller feet, and see her 
giggle and kick them off against the ceiling of their 
little house. She became interested in her big toe, 
and brought it up to look at it. She began to frown : 
she could not remember its name. 

'' Little thumb?" she inquired doubtfully, staring 
at the wonderful member. But that did not seem 
right. In her perplexity she turned to Hoo Chee. 

'' Little nose ? " she ventured. 

^^ That 's your little big toe," said Hoo Chee ; where- 
upon Miss Oo repeated the words after him, and went 
off into an ecstasy of laughter over her new knowl- 
edge. She shook the fat cloth cat by the tail, just as 
she had when he had seen her flirting with the sun. 
And Hoo Chee was so enchanted that he tried to shake 
One-Two by the tail. The 3'oung persons were severely 
startled by One-Two's instantaneous denial of this 
privilege. One-Two turned a somersault in the air, 
and sputtered and spun, and made expressions of 
most painful character, and disappeared in a rage 
that was really half jealousy. Then, in the narrow- 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 51 

ness of their little house, they began to lack new 
things to play with, and Miss Oo stared at Hoo Chee 
in expectancy. 

^^ I '11 tell you about the Sarcastic Turtle," said the 
Infant, finally, in an inspiration. ^^ There was a man 
lost his head, and could n't find it anywhere — and 
was n^t it too bad about the poor man ! So he took 
some crutches and went to hunt it — so far that he 
wished he was home again. But the Sarcastic Turtle 
said, ^ I '11 take you across/ And when they got out 
in the middle the Sarcastic Turtle said, ' You must 
promise never to tell my secret when you get home. 
If you do I '11 drown you right now ! ' And the man 
said : ^ What is your secret ? ' And the Sarcastic 
Turtle said : ' WeU, all the other turtles can say 

Yaug-tse-kiang, but I can't !' And the man said 

but I '11 tell you about a little boy," said the Infant, 
observing signs of failing interest in Miss Oo. She 
was sitting propped up in the corner, with her eyes 
half closed. She could n't foUow the story ; but it was 
pleasant to hear some one talk in a steady voice, when 
she felt as she did now. 

" A Little Boy went out one day," said Hoo Chee, 
thoughtfully, " and followed her up the street. And 
she let him in, and it was the House of Glittering 
Things ! It was all white inside, and there was plenty 
of cakes," said the Infant, whereupon Miss Oo opened 
her eyes suspiciously, " and it was lighted with stars 
and a dog and everything. And a man named Gee 
hated him, and went and told his father, and then he 
came and took me away from her ; and I '11 have his 
head cut off, and put it up the chimney, and then he 



52 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

won't hate me any more ! She '11 cut it off for me ! 
And then I 11 stay in the house — and find little 
Quong Sam — for a thousand years/' finished the 
Infant, abstractedly. 

Miss Go had gone to sleep. The Infant saw her 
head rising and falling a tiny distance on her chubby 
chest ; but, lovely as she was, he wished she would go 
home ! He could not run to the house and leave her, 
for the Monstrous Rat might come. It was wretch- 
edly uncomfortable, for his father would surely be 
seeking him. There she sat, with her hands hanging 
at her sides like a Japanese doll's. He wished the 
Lady of Cakes and Tea would appear, and take them 
both away forever on a cloud that would float so high 
that no one could reach it. He thought of the thou- 
sand years, and he was nearly ready to cry. 

It was really a long time since they had entered the 
Go-down. The learned Dr. Wing, pacing in Sum 
Chow's yard, trying to reason out the disappearance 
of two small children, became aware of faint sounds 
coming from the direction of the Go-down, and after 
listening carefully for a while to the story of a little 
boy, laughed softly to himself and departed. There 
were now people in the yard, the Infant knew — 
several of them ; and one was a man speaking Chinese 
in a foreign accent. Then some one in a wonderfully 
lovely voice spoke — a voice whose clear soft tones 
penetrated the Go-down. Surely Hoo Chee had heard 
that voice before! He grasped the ginger-jar and 
crawled excitedly over Miss Go's feet, and put his 
head out to listen. G joy ! and oh, most marvelous 
surprise! It was the Lady of Cakes and Tea! He 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 53 

wriggled out as fast as his hands and knees would 
carry him, jostling the small maid, who murmured 
sleepily, " Miss Oo?" and awoke to see his disappearing 
heels. 

Near the door of the Go-down the Infant paused 
and peeped through a crack from behind a barrel. 
He heard his angry father, who spoke but little Eng- 
lish, hotly declaring in Chinese that when Hoo Chee 
should be found he would be tied indoors — for a 
thousand years. 

" The fellow 's a brute ! " said the gentleman who 
had come with Miss Bayley Arenam, in English. 
" He still pretends to believe that you stole his boy, 
and he threatens the child with torture — in the same 
breath. If he is n't careful I '11 have the boy removed 
to the mission." 

" He is so dear ! " said Miss Arenam. " You don't 
think his father would hurt him, do you? I do hope 
that some day I may do something to make Hoo Chee 
happier ! " 

''I will teach him mission-school!" Hoo King was 
threatening, while the Infant trembled and paled, and 
scarcely felt Miss Oo behind him. ''If he does n't 
come home I will bring police to your house. And 
there is one who can help me," said Hoo King, point- 
ing to Sum Go's father, who had just come hopefully 
into the yard, after a long search through the quarter. 

^' Gh," said Miss Arenam, recognizing Sum Chow ; 
"is it your little girl who is missing — Miss Go? 
Surely no one would harm them ! Do you think so ! " 

"Gone childs," said the learned Dr. Wing Shee, 
appearing behind Chow. " Gmens says shall be find ; 



54 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 

shall come from east/' said the doctor, pointing to- 
ward the Go-down. " Omens say good times come 
for that poy, by by." 

'' She is good little girl/' said Sum Chow, trying to 
smile. '^She is too much — and the mother is too 
much sad. But we do not think you " 

" Why don't the foreign devils go ? " said Hoo King. 
'^ Why do they loiter on my premises ? Do they want 
to steal me ? " 

The Infant shivered. He saw the Lovely Lady 
about to depart. She would disappear again — for- 
ever — and he would be left alone with his father. 
Ah, no, no ! He rushed wildly out of the Go-down 
and after her, calling loudly : i 

'' Ha-o, Pay-lee ! Pay-lee ! " 

" Why, you darling ! " cried Bayley Arenam, joy- 
fully. ^' You were hiding 1 " 

The Lady took the dusty young person up, and kissed 
him, and, as fast as she could, came trotting after him 
the barefooted Miss Oo, who ran to the Lovely Lady, 
and said demurely : 

'' Miss Oo ? " 

And when the Lady put him down, to look at the 
Infant and Miss Oo as they stood side by side, the 
Infant took hold of the Lady's gown, and turned his 
head back so that he could look beseechingly up 
into her eyes. 

''We want to go home with you," he entreated, 
with frightened breath. ''We want to go to the 
House of Glittering Things! We want to!" he 
begged, with a pain of suspense. " She '11 be good, 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 55 

and I '11 be good. We don't want to stay here. We 
want to go home with you ! " 

And Miss Oo, hearing the Infant talk of going 
somewhere, decided that he should not suddenly for- 
sake her again. She tightly grasped the tip of Hoo 
Chee's cue, and looked earnestly into the face of the 
Lovely Lady. 

*^ The darling things ! What does he say ?'^ asked 
Miss Arenam. 

^' He says they want to go and live with you," 
translated Mr. Arroway. 

'^ You angel ! " cried the Lady of Cakes and Tea, 
kissing him again. '^ I do wish I could take you.'^ 

The Infant laughed aloud. It was all right, then ! 
One could tell from the kiss and the tone, no matter 
if one knew not a word of what she said. He would 
go with her to the house — and the thousand years 
would be left behind ! Hoo King was glaring at his 
son in a rage, but the presence of the gentleman who 
spoke Chinese restrained what the father might have 
said. 

"Good-by," said Hoo Chee, radiantly turning his 
head to his father, but still holding tight to the Lady. 
" I go to the House of Glittering Things. I shall be 
always happy ! " 

" Ah ! " cried Hoo King, beside himself. ^^ Fool off- 
spring! Fool! Come here; they have filled your 
impious body with devils ! " 

Hoo King made a dash for his son. 

'^ No, no, no ! " exclaimed Hoo Chee, fearfully, run- 
ning behind Miss Arenam, with the troubled Miss Oo 



56 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES 

following after and holding to his jngtail. "No, no, 
no ! Pay-lee ! FsLj-lee ! " 

But Mr. Arroway caught him. 

"You belong to your father, little boy," he said 
tenderly, iu Chinese, while Hoo Chee struggled and 
wept and hated him. " You must stay with him. I 
am sorry ; but the Lady will come again some day — 
surely ! " 

Hoo King strode forward and snatched the Infant's 
hand, tearing his hold roughly from the Lady's skirt ; 
and Sum Chow took the hand of his daughter. But 
Miss Oo began to sniffle, too, resisting with all her 
tiny strength the loosening of her grasp of Hoo Chee's 
pigtail. When it was accomplished she broke into a 
wail. " Miss Oo ! Miss Oo ! " she cried, woefully. 
Hoo Chee was dragged by his frowning sire toward 
the house, but the Infant wept no longer. His breath 
caught and caught, as if his bursting heart was forc- 
ing it all from his body; his brain was whirling in a 
panic. The sun was to be taken from the sky for a 
thousand bitter years. 

Long after the yard was deserted there appeared at 
the window, just aboye the sill, a little round face 
with two red eyes and a mouth drawn down at the 
corners yery far. A wind was sending in a swirling 
fog. The little red eyes overlooked the Important 
Town and the waving posies and the ginger-jar with 
the scattered treasures, and they saw into the empty 
Go-down. But those whose forms stayed pictured in 
his memory — Dr. Wing and Miss Oo and the Lovely 
Lady — they were gone — all gone — forever. They 



THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 57 

were the only ones he loved, but he should never see 
them again. The wind slammed the gate and latched 
it. The little eyes blinked and blinked and filled till 
they could not see; and the small head bowed on the 
window-sill. 






THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 



^ 



THE dENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 




TRADITION says that tlie famous 
Wing Shee learned medicine in the 
street of the Thirty-four Sorrowful 
Grandfathers, Canton, from the 
tongues of the sacred storks whose 
eyelids he sewed together against 
the sight of happenings profane. Another tradi- 
tion denies that he ever did learn it. Yet surely the 
doctor was a man of parts, and was gifted with every 
element, except the favor of chance, for what men 
call success. He looked frail in body; yet he had 
shone so valorous in the Taiping Rebellion that the 
mandarin in whose mob of militants Wing Shee 
marched had plotted perforce to extinguish him. 
Thus was Wing started on his wanderings, which 
stopped twenty years ago in a garret room at No. 13| 
Beverly Place, San Francisco. 

His walls were hung with water-colors reminiscent 
of screens and fans and china. There was a life-sized 
lady in much gilt embroidery, who walked due north, 
while her eyes yearned due south — a triumph of 
mind over matter. There was a beautiful flesh-tint 
of the fat Hoo King, who had refused to recognize it ; 
whereupon Wing had given it the grimace of a fiend, 
and altered the eyes so that they looked at the nose. 

61 



62 THE GENTLE:MAN IN THE BARREL 

For the doctor was public in any office of the brush. 
He would paint your face or a presentment of it, or 
he would paint your house. He would write letters, 
or big red visiting-cards, or signs. For a modest 
transfer he would chart an augury of all the delight- 
ful things to come in your career, forbearing mention 
of those miseries sufficient to the days thereof; and 
since it was done from seven random hairs plucked 
by yourself from your own head, there w^as hardly 
room for skepticism. But more than for anything 
else was he esteemed for his knowledge of diseases, 
and of how to make people think that they did not 
have them. He was unorthodox in this branch, as he 
was in others; and that, among the ignorant, has 
been ground for prejudice against him. 

It happened that this little old gentleman, who was 
sixty-five, though you would have said fifty, found 
his room rent two months in arrears, with the pros- 
pect in one day more of being placed on the outside 
of No. 13i, wHth his pots, pans, and implements of 
art. "Wing Shee, who had helped many a fellow in 
distress, and whose kindly eyes, through spectacles 
with rims as large as silver dollars, attracted every 
child, would have fallen into melancholy had that 
been possible to him ; for his position seemed not to 
touch the hearts of his friends. The scholar's pride 
that kept him from meeting the issue by pawning the 
tools of his varied accomplishments they would have 
called presumptuous affectation. 

About this time it became most important to the 
great Chee Kung Tong to know what mysterious busi- 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 63 

ness was done of nights in the rooms of the Tong 
styling itseK the Ho Wang Company. The Ho Wang 
was ostensibly a corporation formed to deal in wines, 
and the twenty who assembled regularly in its rooms 
for secret deliberations, with some incidental good- 
fellowship and a little propitiation of the gods, were 
called the board of directors. Most men in China- 
town thought the machinery of the Ho Wang merely 
a blind against some foolish local law designed to dis- 
courage the lottery-gambler — an innocent person who 
chooses to do business by logarithms; or else they 
thought the twenty were manufacturing American 
silver dollars — a pursuit morally justified by the ever 
unsatisfied demand. But the great Chee Kung was 
anxious lest this might be the nucleus of a rival or- 
ganization growing out of the Chee Kung's despo- 
tism. A wall of the Ho Wang rooms was said to be 
inscribed with the names of its three hundred mem- 
bers. The Chee Kung wanted those names, and would 
pay for them. 

Lung Tom and Hang Tow, the hulking day watch- 
dogs of the Ho Wang quarters, were not available. 
Lung Tom was successfully approached by a Chee 
Kung trusty, and said he was more than willing to 
turn an honest penny ; but it was discovered that he 
could neither read nor write. Of Hang Tow the Chee 
Kung was chary, since he was suspected of being one 
of the Ho Wang's members. The two guards were 
never allowed in the rooms during the meetings, 
which lasted from eight o'clock at night until four in 
the morning; but all the rest of the time they were 
required to keep everybody out of the company's 



64 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

premises, except the police, who were welcome. At 
night either Lung Tom or Hang Tow was always at 
the street entrance. The police used to come in once 
in a while, at first ; but they never discovered any- 
thing to warrant suspicion. The place contained a 
number of wine-casks, an open fireplace with an iron 
pot hung in it, and little else to attrsfct attention. Re- 
ligious ceremonies seemed the main diversion of the 
Ho Wang. 

One morning, at this juncture, two emissaries of 
the Chee Kung climbed to the garret where lodged 
the learned Wing Shee. They heard cheerful music, 
and came upon the doctor curled in a small heap on 
his divan, smoking a pipe and playing a mandolin. 
Having conscientiously exhausted every project for 
avoiding the ejector of tenants, and having failed, he 
had turned to the companions of his leisure, leaving 
the rest to fate. Fate entered his room in the persons 
of the two from the Chee Kung. That a man reported 
on the verge of bankruptcy should be thus passing 
his time surrounded by numerous articles on which 
money could be had at interest startled them. They 
were men with paunches and other indications of 
prosperity ; but where they had expected to receive 
deference they now bowed diplomatically low, and 
proceeded in a subdued tone to lay their proposition 
before him, while he graciously made tea, with no 
sign of enthusiasm visible through the great horn 
bows of his spectacles. When they had received their 
cups and had seated themselves, rather awed by his 
elegance of manner, the doctor said : 

" What do you offer for this service ? If I fail it 
will be because I lose my life." 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 65 

'^What will yon undertake it for?" asked the 
spokesman. The tea was excellent ; the rumors about 
this learned gentleman must be ridiculously false. 

"It will be one dollar for every name," said Wiug 
Shee, rattling some keys in his pocket. 

"Three hundred dollars!" said the spokesman. 
" Impossible ! We will give you one hundred. No ? 
Well, good morning." 

The two retired slowly, as if expecting the sugges- 
tion of a compromise. Immediately the doctor jumped 
to the door. They had paused at the first landing 
below. He held the knob, ready to run and shout to 
them should they start down the remaining flights. 
But soon their steps were heard returning, whereupon 
he climbed briskly to the divan, resumed his pipe, and 
strummed a few chords on his mandolin. 

" We have decided to accept your proposition," said 
the spokesman, " though as a member of the Chee 
Kung Tong, and as a man of means, we think you 
ought to do it for less." 

"What can the Chee Kung do for me if I get a 
hatchet stroke in the nape of the neck f " asked the 
doctor, sweeping a wild discord over the strings. 
" Come back in thirty-six hours, and if you see me 
alive I shall ask you for the money." 

The doctor played softly until they were gone. He 
reflected that a tenth of the sum would have tempted 
him. Meanwhile the spokesman of the Chee Kung 
was explaining to his companion that it is better to 
promise three hundred dollars than to pay one hun- 
dred. 

When, later, the doctor returned from a visit to an 
American friend, he carried a box of tools, and up his 



66 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

sleeve was a string of boiled sausages. In the hall a 
junkman had left an empty barrel so large that the 
doctor could barely get it through his door. It was 
strong and heavy, and had served perhaps in the vault 
of a vinevard. When he had locked himself in with 
it, he began to move about rapidly. On the divan he 
laid the sausages, some packages of drugs, his mando- 
lin, his pipe and a supply of tobacco, a sharp knife 
with a case that looked like a closed fan, a bottle of 
ground Chinese ink with brushes, a bundle of long 
paraffin tapers, several books in his own language, 
and a bottle of rice gin. 

Then PowLee, who kept the joss-house down-stairs, 
and occupied the other garret room, heard Wing 
hammering and sawing and planing. That pleased 
Pow Lee; for Wing, whose attitude toward joss- 
keepers was of small respect, was evidently forced to 
the wall, and must pack his belongings. The little 
man with the superior manner would have to take up 
his abode in some inferior lodging, where two others 
would sleep in his bunk during parts of the solar day. 
Pow Lee, who was growing wealthy as a member of 
the Ho Wang Company, could now rent this room for 
himself, which would suit certain financial plans of 
his not likely to mature under inspection. 

At about dusk the sounds of carpentering came but 
intermittently ; and when Pow Lee, after no answer 
to his knock, peeped curiously in, he found no one. 
That seemed strange, since he was sure he had heard 
a hammer-stroke but a minute before. A blue barrel 
lay in a pile of shavings. Pow rolled it, and found 
it heavy; it was surprising that Wing could have 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 67 

filled a barrel aud so little cliauged the aspect of the 
place. A medicine-box was on the divan, an oppor- 
tunity welcome to the inquisitive joss-keeper. But 
when he touched it there came from near by the sharp 
sweep of chords on a mandolin. It was evidently 
Wing returning. Pow Lee fled. 

Lights began to shine fr.om the house. The blue 
barrel lay in the twilight. Occasionally it oscillated 
gently, as if some heavy person had run across an ad- 
joining room in the flimsy building. A cloud of 
tobacco smoke hung closely around it, as though 
brought from the ceiling by a mood of the atmo- 
sphere. By and by an American in a leathern apron 
came with ropes and let it down the stairs. Then he 
locked the door and took the key. At the street the 
barrel escaped from the ropes and trundundled across 
the sidewalk, where it stopped abruptly against the 
wheel of a wagon. The man with the rope apolo- 
gized, though it was not plain to whom. 

Later, in the back room of the Ho Wang Company, 
Hang Tow drowsily opened his eyes and then went 
to sleep again, while Lung Tom ranged in line some 
newly delivered casks. The blue barrel had arrived 
among them; and this he left upright at one side 
of the room. Once, while Hang slumbered, Lung 
moved it a foot or two. 

When Hang awoke he saw Lung sitting on the blue 
barrel, gazing toward the wall at a long line of hiero- 
glyphic names he could not read. Before long the 
Ho Wang would be assembling. Hang lumbered 
with interest over to the barrel that was different 
from the others. 



68 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

'^ It does n't belong here," said Lung. " The man 
came back while you slept, and said he would call for 
it in the morning." 

" Unusual barrel — has two bungs ! Wonder what ^s 
in itf" said Hang, with pregnant curiosity. But 
Lung did not seem to care. Hang could hear no 
swish of liquids ; its contents were evidently solid, 
since they made a sound when Hang turned it upside 
down, wliich was quick work for a man of his strength. 
At each end at regular intervals there were small round 
holes in the staves, but the holes had been closed 
from within. It worried Hang why, if the contents 
were not valuable, this had been done, and new heads 
put in. It occurred to him that between four and six 
in the morning he might be able to open the barrel ; 
and should he take a fancy to anything in it, he could 
lay the blame on the honest Lung Tom, to whom the 
American would naturally look should anything be 
missing. 

" Time ! " called Hang at length to Lung, who ap- 
peared to have started a nap. '^The chief said he 
would discharge you if he found you asleep again." 

'' He told me," said Lung, without opening his eyes, 
" that if you did n't smoke less opium he would dis- 
charge you." 

Before they left for the front room Lung rolled the 
barrel to a far corner. It oscillated to and fro several 
times, and finall}^, with an unnatural lurch, came to 
rest. A vapor like the smoke of tobacco began to rise 
from its vicinity ; but the air was so Chinese, and the 
room so dimly lighted by a single oil lamp, that no 
one would have detected this phenomenon. 



THE GENTLE^IAN IN THE BAREEL 69 

At eight o^clock Hoo King, the chief of the Ho 
Wangs, arrived with several members. Hang Tow 
had hastened to supper, whence he would seek his 
favorite opium-joint, where they never failed to drag 
him from his stupor at exactly half-past three in the 
morning. Lung Tom told Hoo King about the blue 
barrel, and took up his station at the street entrance 
to the hallway. 

The members stopped in the front room, where 
there were chairs and gaslight. From the dim corner 
of the back room, where the barrel lay on its side, it 
was possible to distinguish only that a business meet- 
ing was being held. At first any one who opened the 
communicating door might have heard, from a source 
hard to say, the tinkling of a mandolin, apparently 
distant, and surely in the hands of a master. But 
soon the music ceased. 

Two hours later Hoo King led the way back for 
the serious work of the night. He and those who 
thronged after him were all well known in Chinatown. 
Hoo King was a ginseng merchant and a general ma- 
nipulator of profits ; Ma Tee owned a factory which 
supplied cigars to all men who could not afford good 
ones j the fat Fong Ah was proprietor of a wash- 
house in which labored eighteen less fortunate Chi- 
nese ; Fai Chu was known to every man who had been 
sick, for he sold drugs in one of the neatest shops of 
the quarter; Lee Yip was president of a curio-shop 
much patronized by tourists ; Fuey Ying slaughtered 
pork, and found a market for nearly every pound of 
it among the Celestials ; Pow Lee sold joss-sticks, and 



70 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

ate the offerings to the gods ; Hai Lo was head spirit 
in a mysterious place called the Hole-iu-the-Groimd ; 
and there were twelve others, all of fresh-shaven heads, 
and portliness, and clean clothing in noticeable col- 
ors. They wore red buttons in their caps, and their 
trousers were tightly wrapped at the ankles. Their 
dignity and the tobacco they smoked belonged to a 
prosperity hard to explain. 

Hoo King, who was telling Ma Tee about the blue 
barrel, said suddenly: 

"The idiot— he told me he put it in the far 
corner ! ^' 

The blue barrel was standing upright in the center 
of the room. 

When the heavy shutters of the rear windows had 
been barred and the door locked, and the chief had 
wrapped around his wrist the end of a fine wire that 
hung from the ceiling, four casks were brought for- 
ward and their bungs drawn. One after another each 
of those present took from his sleeve a bag, from 
which he counted twenty double eagles, holding every 
coin so that all could see it, then dropping it into one 
of the casks. When the money had been equally di- 
vided among the casks the bungs were replaced, and 
there began a very long process of rolling the casks 
to and fi*o across the floor. Every few minutes new 
sets of men came forward for the work, which was 
arduous enough to set beads of perspiration on the 
faces of the fat Fong Ah and his counterpart Fuey 
Ying. 

It was well past midnight, and the rolling was nearly 
at an end, when without warning Hoo King^s hand 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 71 

flew up, jerked by the wire attached to his wrist. He 
shouted a word of gibberish, and, freeing himself, 
dropped cross-legged in the middle of the room, break- 
ing into a chant like those of the Taoist priests. 
Quickly six others joined him, and one man began 
pounding a gong while another played on a squealing 
pipe. The transformation was creditable from a dra- 
matic point of view ; the noise was deafening. 

The door swung easily open, and admitted a ser- 
geant of police, followed by a party of tourists and a 
Chinese interpreter. 

" Shut up ! " shouted the sergeant, crashing his stick 
on the panel. '' Now, you, John, tell the ladies what 
kind of a fandango this is." 

'' This," said the interpreter to the ladies, '^ is a new 
kind of leligion — baily diff'unt than all other kinds 
leligions of China. All those make-to-write on that 
wall was petitions to Heaven. Those men wusship 
one big yellow god named Yangtse — baily much 
same all you ^Melicans wusship." 

'^ Well," said a lady, " they are started in the right 
direction. Who knows but that they will finish by 
becoming Christians ? " 

" More likely to finish in jail, ma'am," said the ser- 
geant, who had had experiences. " This ain't much. 
But now I '11 show you the old woman who sells live 
cats' eyes." 

The party filed out, each lady with her skirts in one 
hand, and her smelling-bottle in the other, the men 
puffing at cigars in competition with the air of the 
place. 

Then the scene changed back. The contents of the 



72 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

casks — water, sand, and coin — were discharged, and 
the money was restored to its owners. The opera- 
tion was Hoo King's method of '' sweating" United 
States gold coin, the result of his many years of ex- 
perience. Hoo King was the man who knew the right 
quality of sand, and judged the coins, and controlled 
the best methods of disposing of them after they had 
been robbed of enough metal for profit. The water 
with which the sand had been washed was placed in 
a big kettle to evaporate, and while the fire roared 
beneath it the members sat smoking, and whiling 
away the time with jovial conversation. Those who 
had to be up early stretched out in sleep. 

When Pow Lee recognized the blue barrel, and 
stated positively where he had seen it a few hours 
before, it came in for much attention and gossip. 
There was a general feeling of pleasui*e in this group of 
men opposed to the learned Wing Shee both morally 
and mentally, over the proof of the financial straits 
into which he had fallen. Fai Chu disparaged him as 
a quack who had been the death of countless patients. 
Hoo King spoke of the rejected portrait, which in its 
altered form was a constant thorn in his side, and 
suggested how agreeable it would be to roast the doc- 
tor in his own blue barrel over such an excellent fire. 
Pow Lee seconded their sentiments with spirit, and 
searched for the ax, proposing that the barrel be 
broken in and its contents examined. With his own 
eyes, he said, he had seen Wing Shee packing in it 
the cross-eyed portrait of the chief of the Ho Wang, 
together with many strange dried animals such as 
Wing ground for his magic medicines. Here was a 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 73 

most desirable opportunity to get possession of tlie 
portrait, and examine the outlandish beasts at leisure. 
The doctor's false pretenses could be exposed. The 
others hammered the barrel, and rolled it, and turned 
it upside down. 

" Look out ! " said Pow, coming up with the ax, 
" Just let me have one blow ! " 

But the fat Fong Ah stayed the arm of the joss- 
keeper. 

" It won't do," he said ; ^' for if the white man who 
brought it makes complaint, the police will search this 
place too thoroughly." 

When four o'clock arrived, there had been a brief 
process with crucible and bellows, and the directors 
of the Ho Wang Company had gone home to peaceful 
slumber. 

At this point enters something like a question of 
veracity. Hang Tow returned rather heavy with 
opium, and saw the blue barrel lying on its side. 
The two watchmen lay down in different corners of 
the room. Each insists that he slept until seven in 
the morning without a break. Hang says he had a 
dream. Their statements are improbable. 

Hang's alleged dream was that he awoke and heard 
a sound as if one of the casks was being rolled very 
slowly across the floor. There was a mild collision 
with another cask, and then a silence that caused a 
rising of his loose scalp-locks. Soon came more of 
this cautious rolling, and another bump, after which 
he presently saw in the direction whence proceeded 
the noise eight tiny points of light gleaming in the 



74 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

darkness a few feet above the floor. The lights shone 
steadily, and there was no further sound. This phe- 
nomenon filled Hang with a contest of fear and curi- 
osity, in which the latter finally prevailed, so that he 
crept gently toward the lights. When he was nearly 
within reach they disappeared. He struck a match, 
and confronted the blue barrel. 

If the luminous glances of one of Wing's diaboli- 
cal animals had made the glimmer, the monster was 
probably too big to escape and be at him from the 
bung of the barrel. He lighted the lamp, and with 
the handle of the ax knocked in one of the two bungs. 
It is absurd to assert that this action would not have 
aroused Lung Tom. Hang tried to see into the bar- 
rel, but his head got persistently in the way of the 
rays of the lamp. He went around and knocked in 
the other bung, so that the light might shine from the 
other side. But as soon as he left the first bung-hole 
for the second, the first bung was replaced from the 
inside of the barrel ! He could not run around the 
barrel quickly enough to get ahead of the demon im- 
prisoned within. 

But now he wedged a broomstick firmly between 
two other casks, so that its end went a short way 
through one of the bung-holes and prevented its plug 
from being put back ; then once more he thrust in 
the second bung. Now he could see ! His eyes met 
two large shining disks like spectacles. That was all. 

There came a puff as from some one blowing dust, 
and a cloud of blinding, stinging red powder filled his 
eyes, putting out his sight, and causing him to howl 
with pain. As Hang Tow raised his hands to his 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 75 

brow, the barrel lifted from where it stood, and fell 
heavily upon his nose, throwing him on his back. 
It rolled off with a thunder that would have awakened 
ten Lung Toms. But Lung made no sign. It is not 
known just what further harm the barrel did to Hang 
Tow, but when it had finished with him it waddled 
up to the lamp, blew out the flame, lighted a taper 
inside of itself, and settled down comfortably. 

When, late in the morning, Hang awoke and saw 
Lung sitting in abstraction on a cask near by. Hang 
gazed inquiringly through red and tearful eyes at his 
honest fellow- watchman. Lung Tom glanced at him 
without emotion, and said simply : 

'' Too much opium." 

The blue barrel was gone. 

Snubby Taggerty had the barrel in hand. It was 
he who had carried and brought it. He was talking 
to it while he urged it through the door of the garret 
in Beverly Place. When he had locked himself into 
the room, and had said, with a sigh of rest, " All 
right ! " two flaps opened in the head of the barrel, 
and Doctor Wing Shee looked again upon his beloved 
abode. His head was swathed like a Moslem's, and 
his cue was coiled into an additional buffer at the 
top of it. 

"You puUee me," he requested, with a feeble 
grimace. 

Taggerty, who was not very tall, stood on a chair, 
and tried to extract the learned gentleman from 
within. But the doctor's legs, _^ cramped by eighteen 
hours in one position, refused to turn on their hinges, 



76 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

and his knees caught provokingly against the fixed 
part of the barrel-head. 

" Hoi' on, doc," said Taggerty, suddenly releasing 
his hold, and letting his friend slump back to the 
interior of the barrel. '' Wait till I t'row it over." 

When the barrel was on its side, Taggerty slowly 
manipulated the body of his friend as he had some- 
times worked large bedsteads through narrow doors, 
and finally produced him complete on the floor. The 
doctor smiled in the best of humor ; but when Tag- 
gerty took him under the arms and raised him to his 
feet, the old gentleman's legs refused to straighten, 
and he flopped back to a cross-legged position in the 
pile of shavings. | 

'^ Too muchee same, allee time," explained the doc- 
tor, cheerily, while his friend placed him on a chair, 
and tried to pull his legs in line. '' No ; you go that 
closet — look shee black bottle." 

Taggerty drew forth a jar of whisky in which floated 
the remains of a plucked fowl. 

" What the dickens is the birdie, doc ? " said he, in 
wonder. 

" That him cloe-bud ; make ' Caw, caw, caw ! ' You 
sabbee ? Baily good for no-can-walk." 

Half an hour's rubbing with this liniment left the 
Chinaman fairly restored, and not long afterwards the 
two deputies of the Chee Kung Tong, chmbing the 
garret stairs, heard the familiar tinkle of the learned 
gentleman's mandolin. But this time when they came 
in they found Snubby Taggerty with him. 

^' Here is a book with 303 names of the members of 
the Ho Wang Company, as written on the walls of 
its rear apartment," said the doctor, leaning over the 



THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BAREEL 77 

blue barrel. " Three hundred dollars, however, will 
be sufficient." 

Th« visitors exchanged glances. 

''We '11 give you two hundred," exclaimed the 
spokesman. 

'' Three hundred dollars will be sufficient," said the 
doctor, in a tone full of meaning. 

" But how do we know they are genuine ? Besides, 
if you don't accept our terms your trouble will have 
been for nothing." 

'' You accepted my terms yesterday. My reputation 
guarantees their authenticity. As for the rest, it will 
be more profitable to me to drop the book into this 
barrel, in which there is an inch of coal oil. With 
this taper," said the doctor, lighting it, " I can fire the 
oil, and destroy the book of names — the valuable 
book of names — instantaneously. I give you a min- 
ute by my friend's watch to decide. You look shee," 
said the doctor, in English, to Taggerty. 

The envoys departed, leaving Wing Shee in posses- 
sion of fifteen big gold pieces. 

The door had barely closed before it was opened 
unceremoniously b}^ a creature with a hooked nose 
and a mouth of disdain, who said to Wing Shee briefly : 

" Well, to-day is the thirty-first. What is it — pay 
or get bounced ? " 

"Say, feller," said Taggerty, who sat easily in a 
chair, " that ain't the way to speak to a gent like this. 
He 's first cousin to the King of the Asiastic empire, 
he is — an' I don't like yer ugly face, savez ? " 

" What have you got to do with it, you snub-nose ? " 
said the ejector of tenants, scornfully. 

" Oh, let 's see ! " said Taggart, joyfully. " Count 



78 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 

'em out, doc; an' see he don't cheat on the change. 
Did n't I tell yer the doc was in the swim ? I 'm his 
chief bull- whacker, I am — take a run ! " 

The ejector was rudely ejected by the collar, and 
from the stairs were heard sounds of a person de- 
scending with great difficulty, but with much haste. 

'^ Say, doc," said Snubby Taggerty, when he re- 
turned, " was they really three hundred members to 
that outfit ? " 

^' Oh, no," said Wing Shee. " All those names dead 
men. They was put on that wall to make foolee 
people. But you baily good boy. I give you twenty 
dollies." 

" Naw ! You 'n me 's even for the time you fixed 
me busted eye. But they 's twenty live ones, any- 
how. An' you 'n me '11 get a reward from the Gov'- 
ment for nosin' a counterfeiters' nest. Say, I 've got 
a scheme or two to let you in on ; for you 're a dandy 
— you are ! " said Taggerty, gazing admiringly at the 
blue barrel. '' Bye ! " 

After a while nothing remained of the blue barrel 
but a pile of kindling-wood. The learned Doctor 
Wing Shee sat on his divan, playing the mandolin 
softly, and now and then taking a whiff from his pipe. 

'' The best of it," he said to himself, with a quiet 
smile, as he stared through his great spectacles, and 
thought of the time he had spent in the barrel reading 
by the light of a taper, ^' is that, after twenty years, I 
at last finished the ^ Storv of How Yuen Liu Taught 
the Stork to Play Shuttle-Cock,' which, to me, is the 
most stupid and improbable of the Seven Thousand 
Classics." 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 




IX Chinamen were climbing Jackson 
street, in San Francisco. They 
were men who bent for thirteen 
hours a day over the laundry 
benches of the fat Fong Ah, which 
lie out of Chinatown. It was after 
midnio-ht, and the wooden walk was deserted and 
fairly wide; yet they marched dispersed in Chinese 
file, as if they were still worming the narrow, crowded 
thoroughfares of their city of Canton. 

Their conversation was like the gargling of mixed 
consonants; and their garments were as made for 
one man from one pattern. Of all concerning them 
what was most civilized was the cold, hard look on 
the face of the hindermost one — Ah Koo. Ah Koo 
was silent. While all the rest discussed the theater 
they had left, every man staring straight in front of 
him as if soliloquizing aloud, — while all the others 
were loquacious, Ah Koo seemed sullen. Often he 
glanced back, especially when he heard footsteps be- 
hind. When presently they had left the Celestial 
quarter well in the rear and had turned into the street 
where the Fong Ah laundry is. Ah Koo suddenly 
darted into the dark shadow of a doorway, and the 
others, on their felt soles, noiselessly and without 
missing him, vanished from sight. 

6 81 



82 THE ]\IAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

Now in this, as iu mauy things, were women in- 
volved ; and they were two — Loo Kee, who toddled 
through life, and Fah Now, who shufiled. Loo Ning 
was their lord, an importer of sea-cabbage and odd 
vegetables, who dwelt in a suite of rooms over some 
stores on Dupont street. He had ebony tables. When 
the wind blew holes through the bright paper lanterns 
that bobbed from his balcony he hung out fresh ones, 
which means that he was prosperous. Loo Kee tod- 
dled through life because her feet had been tightly 
swathed in silken bandages from the time she was six 
years old until she was twelve, so that now she could 
walk but with the help of the normal-footed Fah Now 

the minor wife — who wore slippers that flapped 

with every step she took, because they had no heels 
and were kept on only by a big toe pointing upwards. 
Fah Now had no greater charm than her face ; but 
Loo Kee had sat on a dais six years, outgrowing her 
feet, and had then learned many arts and graces, 
especially arts. 

That dais period had been in Canton, and its end 
came when they told her parents that a wealthy Chi- 
nese, gone abroad, besought her to wed. The parents, 
jingling a thousand Haikwan taels in their pocket, 
which was in the trousers of her father, accepted the 
sum as a proof of the gentleman's love; and they 
stuffed little Kee with stories of splendor and silver 
castles awaiting over the sea ; and then stuffed her 
into the steerage of a giant craft where for three long 
weeks they fed her occasionally and watched her un- 
ceasingly. And when she was landed and dragged 
successfully past the mildly inquisitive revenue flag 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 83 

of the United States her value to Loo Ning, who had 
imported her, was estimated by him at fifteen hun- 
dred Haikwan taels, net. To the rescue society Loo 
Ning solemnly swore the affair was romantic, that she 
had been betrothed to him since her youth. And lit- 
tle Kee, as she had been primed for it, swore the same. 
What puzzled people who saw this sort of thing for 
the first time was the phrase "since her youth," for 
her youth was barely begun. 

Up to then Loo Ning had been in America twenty 
years. But a previous thirty years had been spent in 
Canton. There, strangely, his name had been, not 
Loo Ning, but something else, and he had practised 
appropriation all through the Kwangtung province. 
The officers of the government, who believed that 
they stole everything unchained in the Middle King- 
dom, grew^ a professional jealousy of him, such that 
there came a dispute between him and them concern- 
ing his life, they and he craving it for incompatible 
uses. And a man with a sword ran miles in pursuit 
while Loo Ning fled along the banks of the Canton 
river — a curious case of two persons impelled in the 
same direction by opposite sentiments. A few weeks 
later the sword and Loo Ning turned up in Hong- 
Kong, and from that English port, whence in those 
days there was no extradition, it was easy to ascend 
to the Golden Gate. 

But these were his bottom days, and afterward he 
prospered. In the course of his rise he took to his 
household the handsome Fah Now, aforesaid, she big 
of foot, soft of heart, and worth half a thousand dol- 
lars to her parents. Then he grew richer and sent 



84 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

for Loo Kee, and made Fah Now but a tirewoman to 
her. Fah Now's face was pleasanter to see than Loo 
Kee's, but you looked at their feet. 

Ah Koo was Loo Ning's nearest of kin in America, 
employed by Loo Ning^s friend, Fong Ah, and thus 
came often to see Loo Ning. And the beginning is 
that Fah Now, the forsaken, began to yearn for the 
admiration of Ah and for human sympathy. The 
lady, Loo Kee, too, welcomed Ah always with smiles 
that should have caused Fah Now anxiety. But Fah 
Now was simple, and as yet what Loo Kee thought of 
Ah Koo or what Ah Koo thought of either woman 
was unknown to Fah Now. Loo Ning was jealous of 
both the women in the ratio of five to fifteen. 

One evening Loo Ning had been called to preside 
at a dinner where various secret affairs were adjusted 
and many a bottle thatched with straw was found to 
be all right. Ah Koo thought that Loo Ning might 
return full drowsy with liahtow-sJm, which is dark 
brown gin, and might thus lie low in a stupor, leav- 
ing the women less embarrassed than they were in the 
sober presence of their watchful lord. In this hope 
Ah withdrew near midnight from the fan-tan game 
at the place called in Chinese the Hole-in-the-gi'cmnd, 
and issued demurely from one of the dozen escapes 
from that subterranean temple of Chance, and walked 
a little away and climbed the dingy stairs to the splen- 
did odor of opium, sandal wood, and leeks that clung 
to Loo Ning's aristocratic abode. Ah came stealthily 
and listened at Loo Ning's door and discovered that 
Loo had come home from the dinner, but charged 
with hal'-toiv-slm only enough to arouse his strongest 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 85 

proclivity. There was a family jar; Loo Ning was 
bawling insults to the lady Loo Kee, who sat mute 
and fearing violence. The child, Loo Wah, was 
rushing around to be out of the way as his father 
strode up and down kicking the furniture and assert- 
ing that Ah Koo had been meeting with favor from 
Loo Kee, and should perish for it. Loo Kee should 
be sold to the highest bidder, promised Loo Ning, and 
with that he kicked a box of toys from Loo Wah's 
hands and scattered them over the room. 

That frightened the child, who, conceiving his 
father's effort as hostile, fled to the hall like a flying 
squirrel, all yellow sleeves. Young Loo Wah slammed 
the door so that Ah was not seen standing outside, 
surprised by the light that flashed in his eyes. The 
matter served as pretext for trembling Fah Now, who 
had all the while expected her mistress to fasten on 
her the blame of a new jade earring found on the 
lady's lacquer tray, and not the gift of her lord. Fah 
Now therefore went after the child and brushed by 
Ah Koo, who was flat to the wall in the shadow. The 
sounds within lessened and finally ceased, for Loo 
Ning was content and had taken his pipe with the 
long, slim walking-stick stem and the bowl of an 
acorn's size. In the darkness without the roughly 
dressed little Fah Now felt her garments plucked and 
knew well the voice that whispered her name. Ah 
put his hand on her shoulder and urged her to guile 
with the master, such that Kee might bear the weight 
of the gaud which he said he had left in the tray for 
Fah Now alone. The big-foot woman readily fell to 
his pleading, and breathed a sigh, wishing with all 

6* 



86 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

her foolish heart that he could steal her away from 
her master. Ah understood and made haste (this 
being the first interview he had obtained with her 
away from the rest) to say that he intended some day 
to purchase both her and the lady Kee from Loo Ning 
— which no laundrvman ever could do who worked 
at Fong All's wages, and that to please Fah Now the 
small-foot Loo Kee should be made a servant and 
tirewoman to Fah Now^, instead of Fah Now's tend- 
ing as then to the wants of Loo Kee. The foolish 
big-hearted Fah Now laughed with delight. Then 
the door opened, and in the full glimmer of the oil 
lamps they stood before Loo Ning himself, his face 
transfixed with rage and astonishment. 

Fah Now whii'led from the spasmodic clutch of Ah 
Koo and dashed from her slippers, becoming a ghost 
of white stockings in the dark up-stairs. Ah sprang 
back for defense, but Ning had turned for a weapon 
that hung on the wall. The weapon was a little fan, 
with twin knives concealed within it. Ah took flight 
down the stairs. Ning then stopped, to provide him- 
self with another weapon. 

It was not the late returning crowds, nor that two 
policemen of the Squad stood near, that prevented 
Ning from pursuing Ah when Ning reached the street 
a short distance behind him. Ning could have used 
the hatchet in his sleeve to cleave Ah's skull, and then 
could have jumped down any cellar-way and burrowed 
for a block underground, or run to the roofs and gal- 
loped over the pickets and barbed- wii*e fences dividing 
them to a dozen places of safety, where both friends 
and foes would have secreted him from American 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 87 

law. But Providence sent the procession of All Koo's 
five fellow lanudrymen passing the door as Ah reached 
the street ; and Ning knew they would stand by Ah 
to a man. Ah dropped into step with the others, and 
soon understood that Ning would not attack him at 
once. Ning fell far behind, but Ah Koo climbed 
Jackson street in a sullen mood. His companions 
were accustomed to this, and suspected nothing. 

When Ah, unknown to the rest, had silently turned 
into the shadow of the doorway, he smiled with a new 
idea. The streets were still and the moon was low. 
The gas lamps had not been lighted, and after moon- 
set that part of town would be left in darkness. The 
time passed slowly. A man and his wife came quar- 
reling home. Their voices echoed against the walls 
of the houses, and Ah muttered words of disgust at a 
system that loosens the tongues of women. A fellow 
in liquor scared the Chinese with a feint toward the 
door-step, and then started back, frightened at Ah. 
Finally, with his sleeves joined together in front as if 
his hands were cold. Loo Ning rounded the corner, 
staring impassively before him, like an automaton in 
yellow wax. He walked by Ah Koo, and then along 
and down behind a rise in the street, still gazing 
stolidly into the fog that now crawled over the hills 
from the Golden Gate. Ah Koo arose from the shadow 
and started back to Chinatown. 

The women had put out their lights, but they did 
not retire. Perhaps they both would be beaten when 
Loo Ning returned, and it was better to be thickly 
dressed. The youthful Loo Wah, induced to come 



88 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

out of the gloom by many asseverations that his father 
had gone, sought refuge in sleep and lay on a mat, 
bare of foot and clothed as he was — by the preoccu- 
pation of the tearful Fah Now, who settled herself in 
the dark near by. She would not be surprised if she 
met death before morning, yet was fearful for what 
might happen to Ah Koo. 

The young Loo Wall turned on his face and snored. 
The woman heard footsteps outside and held her 
breath. Loo Kee was in another room. Some one 
slowly opened the door, stepping lightly as Chinamen 
do. She thought it was Loo Ning, returned with the 
truth and bent on violence ; and when she was touched 
she shrank with a shudder. But she heard the false 
voice of Ah Koo, whispering something which she 
believed because she trusted him. 

"I have killed Loo Ning ! " 

Fah Now jumped to her feet and would have made 
an exclamation ; but Ah commanded her to be dumb, 
and she obeyed with the precision of Chinese women 
when they love. He pushed her into a chair, and she 
let him bind her hands with a cord, believing it a de- 
tail of some plan he had formed for taking her off 
with him. When he pulled it too tight into her wrists 
she trembled, but made no sound. Then he tied her 
feet to the rung of the chair, so that she could not 
have moved except on her knees, with the chair on 
her back. The only light was a little flame waving 
before the joss in a case on the wall, and she could not 
see by it the expression on his face. She felt reas- 
sured when he sat alongside and said : 

" Do you like me ? " 



THE ]VIAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 89 

The woman opened ready lips to speak, and in- 
stantly the thick braid of her hair was drawn across 
her mouth between her teeth, and Ah hauled it so taut 
that it strained at the roots, and he tied it fast with a 
hitch at the back of her neck, Fah Now could neither 
speak nor walk. She was surprised to hear him lock 
the door and grope toward another that led to Loo 
Kee's sitting-room, where Loo Kee waited in despera- 
tion for what her lord might do. 

When Ah lighted the wick in Loo Kee's oil cup she 
started up, and asked ; 

'' Loo Ning — where is he ? " 

'• Loo Ning is dead," lied Ah. " We will celebrate j 
for now, by inheritance, you belong to me ! " 

Loo Kee looked at him gravely for a moment ; then 
she jumped to her feet, laughing, and surveying him 
with admiration. 

For Fah Now, in the gloom, the clock ticked drear- 
ily. In the sandal-wood frame on the wall the tiny 
flame flickered before the grimacing face of the joss. 
The two red tips of redolent tapers, stuck in a bowl 
of sand, smoldered forth small lazy smoke-lines of 
incense. Ah did not come ; but there were sounds of 
revelry in the other room, and a lump pushed up in 
Fah Now's throat. 

She could plainly hear the lady Kee tottering about 
on pigmy soles and laying dishes. She could tell when 
Kee ran to the closet, and, with an effort, mounted on 
a box to reach a top shelf. Placed there so that the 
child. Loo Wah, might not reach them, were the in- 
tricate Asiatic sweets and far-fetched titbits that 
were part circumstance on occasions of much candles 



90 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

and ceremony. On it stood the big black jug of moi- 
kwee-loy the amber rice-given gin which is flavored 
with roses and dosed with other things, and is known 
to hurry the generous heart. Fah now w^as sure she 
heard the hxdy Kee draw the big jug along the shelf 
to lower it with mighty calculation, while Ah Koo 
took up Loo Ning's pipe — the one with the long, slim 
walking-stick stem and the bowl of an acorn's size. 
Why was the idle Loo Kee suddenly doing all this in 
the office of a tire-woman ? Ah Koo had promised to 
make the small-foot woman bend before the lovely 
Fah Now, and braid Fah Now's glossy hair and anoint 
the former tire-woman's feet. Was the mistress now 
being made to steep young tea-leaves and set out 
sugared water-melon rind and bean-meal cookies, so 
that Fah Now might sit behind Ah Koo at the table 
while Loo Kee stood to serve them ? The sacrilege of 
such proceedings fought with the warm delight it 
stirred in her mind. But it all fell through ; for why 
was she waiting alone, and in bonds, while Loo Kee 
had the company of the new master? Her little im- 
agination could afford no clue, but the facts were con- 
stantly more plain to her from the sounds that came 
through the door. 

When the bell in a distant tower spoke of two 
o'clock in the morning, the moon had long gone down, 
and the ringing came over silent house-tops through 
a sea-fog. An hour had passed. In the close room, 
dimmed by the ever-swaying flame before the joss, 
the stiffened captive was swallowing sobs. Now what 
came from beyond the door had risen to the half -maud- 
lin lausrhter of a revel reckoned in units of moi-hwee-lo. 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAT) 91 

There could be but little doubt of the perfidy of Ah 
Koo ; but she would appear before them and see for 
herseK if he, as master, meant to retain the old regime 
with Loo Kee, a proud and insolent mistress before 
whom Fah Now must quail. Fah Now dropped on 
her knees, and the chair followed her movement and 
fell with a rude shock against her shoulder. Her fin- 
gers were numb from the tying of the veins, and at 
least Ah Koo would release them when he saw her 
sufferings. She steadied herself painfully on her 
swollen wrists, and managed, inch by inch, to crawl 
toward where the light from the keyhole made a little 
sharp shaft in the darkness. The chair-top struck the 
door with a bump, and immediately the sounds on 
the other side stopped. She tried to rise ; but the 
effort was too great, and she stumbled, and hit the 
door again. It burst open, and Fah Now tumbled 
flat on the floor with the chair on her back, and her 
face and garments woefully blackened by the dust. 
At this sudden apparition Ah Koo and Loo Kee broke 
into shouts of derisive laughter. 

The two revelers sat at a table littered with scraps 
of food and wet with wasted liquor and tea. Kee's 
hair hung half unbraided at the hands of Ah, drag- 
ging the floor. Three tallow candles lit their faces, 
each flame casting a different shadow. A broken dish 
of syrup held the point of Loo Kee's elbow. The two 
laughed incontinently over the grotesque figure of 
Fah Now, who struggled to her feet, her face grown 
salmon-colored with mortification. Her head seemed 
ready to burst, and she moved back, yearning for the 
darkness, where they could not see her. But the chair 



92 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

stuck fast in the doorway, and she finally sank ex- 
hausted into it, with straining eyes. 

" Pretty little cows ! " shouted Ah to Kee, pointing 
at Fah Now's normal feet; and the two giggled at 
the sarcasm. 

''What ghost is this?" asked Kee, nodding at the 
big foot woman. 

''It is the heavenly joss come down from the wall!'' 
cried the profane Ah. " Do reverence to it." 

Loo Kee wheeled unsteadily to get the lamp which 
Loo Ning used to dry the opium bolus before he 
turned it into his pipe. The two knelt down before 
the strange figure of the scorned and fettered Fah 
Now, and took to simpering and jostling each other 
while they managed to light the lamp from the can- 
dles, spilling the oil and spotting themselves with 
grease. They set the oil cup on the floor just out of 
range of Fah Now's feet and placed the candles in a 
row and set a bowl of cookies in front of them. It 
was in imitation of a shrine and offering, with Fah 
Now representing the idol; and Ah Koo began a 
mock chant, while the nearly tipsy Kee held her sides 
in mirth. The two stood to survey their work in a 
lull that called again for the jug of moi-Tcivee-lo. 
Tears rolled down Fah Now's cheeks and she sought 
to dry them behind aching hands. But her hands 
were bound together. 

At four o'clock Loo Kee had become drowsy, and 
Ah Koo left her stupidly lolling across the table. He 
cut the bonds from Fah Now's feet and silently let 
himself out of the rooms. 

All Loo Kee remembered as she floated away on 



THE MAN WHO LUST HIS HEAD 93 

the sleep of intoxication was that she had fastened a 
golden butterfly pin on Ah Koo's cue. It was a 
golden butterfly with green enameled wings — a gift 
to her from Loo Ning. Ah Koo had forgotten that it 
remained on his cue. In the open air the spirit of 
moi-hvee-lo began to develop the effect he had thought 
controllable. He was in a mood to smile and pride 
himself over his conquest. There seemed nothing to 
think of but the triumph over the man he had chosen 
to make his enemy. The liquor was subliming, and 
taking him through the air up over the hills toward 
the laundry; — his feet did not seem to touch the 
pavement. Ah Koo was beginning to lose his head. 

Originally he had planned to come back to the 
laundry in full possession of his faculties. The laun- 
dry, in a dark midnight, was a place suited to things 
such as he had felt would surely happen. It stood 
some way back from the street between two blind 
walls. If he found Loo Ning weary with waiting on 
the dilapidated veranda — watching over the big 
square hole in it through which a man could jump on 
the shoulders of an unsuspecting laundryman enter- 
ing the basement where his fellows slept — then Ah 
Koo had planned to punish Loo Ning. The laundry- 
men would find Loo Ning's body at six o'clock in the 
morning, Ah Koo joining in their surprise. They 
would hide the body in the basement to avoid inves- 
tigation, and they would cleanse the steps with wash- 
ing-lye. 

Some one in the hours succeeding came and covered 
the soundly sleeping lady Loo Kee as she lay on the 
cold floor. Though she stirred not, hers was a trou- 



94 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

bled sleep, alwa3^s full of the image of the tortured 
Fah Now, whose eyes stared at Kee, bulging in their 
sockets and straining tears of blood. In a little while 
the midnight fog shroud rolled away and at length 
the peep of dawn shot down from over Mount Diablo 
on to the bay and the waking city. In Chinatown, 
where men rouse late in the morning of labor and live 
in the night, this is the quietest hour. 

The door where Fah Now had been held in durance 
vile was closed and bolted. The promise of day grew 
dimly into the somber room through panes that were 
soiled with seasons of dust and rain and through 
hangings of young bamboos warped together with 
skeins of worsted. It rested first on the ebony table, 
cold with half-burned candles and the broken dishes 
of the night. There came no sound, for Loo Kee 
lay as one who had died in sleep. When the light 
had gained to cause gray shadows in her coverlet, and 
when the black legs of chairs and stools stood barely 
out against the walls, a something scraped across her 
forehead. The woman stirred a trifle and then as the 
movement took place again, sluggishly raised her 
hand to her brow. The thing was the end of one of 
the slim bamboos that made the window-hanging. It 
came again and again, like the swinging of a pendu- 
lum, and at last she opened her eyes, unaware of what 
had aroused her. The pendulum stopped. 

Loo Kee stared vacantly at the ceiling, her cheeks 
no longer red with rouge, but yellow pale from the 
rubbing of her sleeve. Then her eyes traveled down 
the painted silken panels on the wall, gathering intel- 
ligence as they went, to the scene of the late carouse. 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 95 

They wandered over to the other side of the room and 
fixed. 

In that unaccustomed corner some one was lying 
asleep, with his face turned to the wall. The form of 
his body rose roughly under the blankets, which were 
drawn up to his ears, half hiding his head. His cue 
appeared to be wound around his neck and under one 
ear, as if to make a softer berth. It was Loo Ning, 
thought Kee j but at the end of the cue she saw some- 
thing glistening — the enameled butterfly. She re- 
membered. Loo Ning was dead; she and all Loo 
Ning's possessions belonged to Ah Koo. And that 
was Ah Koo asleep in the corner — a man she rather 
liked. Ah then had made his departure a joke and 
had stolen back to put a pleasantry on her. She 
stifled a giggle — she would anticipate him. 

The parting gloom discovered her face all smiling 
as she crawled stealthily along on hands and knees. 
When she felt she could just reach the tip of the cue, 
which lay invitingly, she stopped and held her breath 
in a pleasure of excitement. Then she gave the braid 
a tentative tug. Ah Koo turned a litt'e, but rolled 
unwillingly back, and she waited. Soon. she pulled 
again, with something of a frown of impatience and 
with the same result. The light was not yet strong 
enough in the corner to show her whether he had 
waked and was feigning sleep to tease her; but she 
felt that it was so. She would cure him of that. 
Without a sound she rose on her elbow, brimming 
with the shout of merriment to come when he surren- 
dered to the strain of his scalp. Then she braced 
herself and jerked the cue as hard as she could. 



96 THE J^IAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 

At that moment the bamboo hanging at the window 
behind her was quickly drawn aside and the light in 
the room was doubled. How it happened the woman 
did not know. Her mouth had opened wide, but 
stayed mute and gaping. The roots of her hair bris- 
tled and chilled, and her heart stopped. She fell for- 
ward in a swoon, with the tip of her finger touching 
the golden butterfly. 

The robust Loo Ning, standing above, grim and 
middle-aged, surveyed her without emotion. He 
stepped over her, and without disturbing Ah Koo's 
head, removed from under the blankets two bundles 
of Loo Kee's apparel. The shape which had seemed 
to be that of Ah Koo's body collapsed into nothing. 

Then he took up his pipe with the long slim walk- 
ing-stick stem and the bowl of an acorn's size, and 
went out and spoke pleasantly to Fah Now. 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 




THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

HE blithesome air of '^ Tsim-tsam- 
choDg'' was issuing forth from the 
little chamber in Beverly Place when 
a sudden tempestuous rattling came 
at the door, and Dr. Wing Shee 
stilled his mandolin. 
" They are going to finish my brother Chow ! " wept 
the youth Sum Ah. "The head of the Sing Song 
Tong just gave me a scroll, — and a kick-push too, — 
and it says they have put Chow in chains in a dun- 
geon, with nothing but foreign devils^ bread ! And 
the man who tries to rescue him they swear to roll in 
the cask-with-red-hot-spikes ; and oh, most wonderful, 
ancient, wise physician, won't you try?" 

Among the screens and china at Sum Chow's curio 
shop the doctor found none but the helper Yang. 
Chow was gone. Sum Fay, the diminutive wife of 
Sum Chow, heard, and put down her tiny girl Sum 
Oo, and came out with a sinking heart beneath her 
silken tunic. The doctor told her that Chow was his 
friend, and spoke of the duty Confucius demanded of 
friendship, and said that Sum Chow was surely be- 
loved of the gods and so could not die young. Then 
he left her mute and blank. But he knew how fiercely 
the Sing Song Tong had scowled at Chow for years, 

99 



100 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

because of Chow's buoyant career and because he 
would not join them. They were a treacherous se- 
cret society, driving women slaves, and seeking the 
despotism of Chinatown. A day ago their hatchet- 
men had eased a grudge against a poor old maker of 
pipe-bowl holes, and had clapped a plaster over his 
mouth, and beaten his back with his own bamboo, till 
his face was the color of clay, before Sum Chow had 
broken one of their heads and driven them away from 
their aged victim. Chow's present plight was the 
Sing Song Tong's reply ; and now the doctor read the 
omen of three spots which he had shown Sum Chow 
the night before — spots which had been nine days on 
the doctor's thumb-nail. As the little old wise man 
pushed along the crowded streets, he strove to con- 
nect with all this the recent strange recurrence of the 
uninterpretable number one and a half, which had 
lately appeared in all his occult findings. 

Sum Fay had gone with a shudder to the dusty 
shrine, and had lighted redolent joss-sticks, and burned 
soul-money for Chow's spiritual costs, in case they 
had killed him. She had been a mission Christian 
girl, and had learned but little of the Taoist faith ; 
for all of Chow's religion was integrity and the love 
of family. But now, in her first disaster, her native 
promptings conquered j and she prayed to her tinseled 
gods with her baby in her arms. The tiny Sum Oo 
cooed and smilingly clutched at her mother's chin. 
But a salt tear suddenly dropped from Sum Fay's 
cheek into the baby girl's bright eye, and gave her a 
fright, and made her weep bitterly with her mother. 

The doctor believed that if Sum Chow survived, he 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 101 

was stalled in the Ok Hut private hospital, which 
stood on a narrow street with evil history, called 
Hatchet Run. The rascal Ok Hut was one of the 
Sing Song Tong, and he had in his building a secret 
cell which was entered through a trap in the garret 
above the sick wards, and aired through a single 
opening made by omitting a brick from the very deep 
wall. To try an approach to this cell by way of Ok 
Hut's garret would be futile, but Dr. Wing Shee knew 
how to use the hole in the wall. When, at evening, 
the learned doctor arrived at Hatchet Run, his sleeves 
concealed many appropriate articles appertaining to 
his plan. The doctor mounted to the room of his 
great fat friend Pow Len, who dealt in tooth-picks 
made from the whiskers of sea-lions, and whose heart 
the doctor trusted more than his tongue. 

" Ah ! " said Pow Len. '' It is he whose skill once 
saved me from death of a twisted gullet. Can I serve 
him ? " 

" It was not a twisted gullet," corrected the doctor, 
assuming a heavy professional ah-. " Your complaint 
was really contempt-of-the-spleen. My noble tooth- 
pick friend, I wish to borrow your excellent coffin ; 
not for a funeral ceremony, but to sit in it here and 
meditate. For my brain is heavy with invention." 

"Nothing new, I hope?" said the orthodox Pow 
Len, surveying the handsome casket which admiring 
compatriots had given him. It stood as high as an 
old-time eight-day clock. 

'^Consider a friend with confidence," quoted the 
doctor. '^ My invention is classic, now remaining but 
of fragmentary record, but first conceived ten centu- 

7* 



102 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

ries and three little years ago by the superhuman Tut 
Tut, to whom the thought shot down in a two-colored 
lightning stroke. It is the sky-flying machine." 

" Ah ! " exclaimed the vast Pow Leu. '' With that 
I could sail like a swallow to the Golden Gate, and 
beard the drowsy seals by night. Enormous profits — 
the life of a bird — dear me ! " 

'' Precisely," said the doctor — '^ the life of the airy 
dodo. Now, in my experience, sir, nothing has proved 
so stimulating to precision of thought as sedentary 
solitude spent continuously in commodious coffins. 
Therefore I request your honorable death-chest." 

Thus, after Pow Lcn, who listened with hanging 
lip, had reverently poured tea for the wonderful wise 
man, and, dreaming of innumerable toothpicks for 
the plucking, had agreed, under promise of secrecy, 
to exchange quarters with him until either the flying- 
machine was produced or suitable coffin rent forth- 
coming, Pow Len withdrew. 

The doctor quickly locked the door, and then, with 
his wonted deftness, fitted the coffin-lid with hinges 
and a hook. In a little while he had screwed the box 
upright against the wall, and had bh)wn out the light 
and fastened himself in what had been built for a 
silent man. The coffin was facing in the direction of 
the hospital. He emptied his sleeves, and hung a tiny 
peanut-oil lamp above his head, and by its glimmer 
began to drive an auger through the back of the cof- 
fin and through the unfinished sheathing of the house 
to the open air. 

'^ Sum Chow would be such a loss," thought the 
doctor, as he worked in bare yellow arms, with his 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 103 

cue coiled around his neck, ^' that I cannot think the 
omens meant it. What pleasant hours we have passed 
learning the 'Melican tongue ! Chow should have been 
a scholar ; for the grace with which he handles, even 
in 'Melican script, such words as ' cat' and ^ dok' and 
' pik ' and '• cow/ and a hundred others I forget, is 
marvelous. I do not think I could ever remember the 
complicated marks for ' man ' and ^ woo-man,' or ^ poy ' 
and ' kull ' long enough to come from Sum Chow's 
and write them correctly in my room in Beverly Place, 
unless I sacrificed my dignity and ran. All this 'Meli- 
can wi'iting looks alike." 

An electric light high above a neighboring street 
shone on the hospital. Through the two auger-holes 
he could see the cell port left by the missing brick in 
the wall across the street. Now in one of the holes 
he fitted a bamboo tube, through which he intended 
to blow a message by way of the port to whomsoever 
should languish in the cell j and he hoped to reach 
Sum Chow. There were hours to pass before the 
street would be vacant, and Wing Shee had allotted 
the time to the composition of a message in verse, 
which to all but Chow would be gibberish. The doc- 
tor's only essay with a pen had left him content to 
express the English sounds as best he could with 
brush and Chinese characters. That was difficult 
when he met distinctions foreign to the older tongue ; 
yet Chow could almost always decipher the doctor's 
scrolls. As when, in the beginning, Dr. Wing had 
written the Chinese signs for the sounds : " Wun pik 
kee foo lee too mut chee taw kee in hee sat : say 
iss no pik kee Chaw shee ! " and Chow had readily 



104 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

translated these into ^'business" English as: ''One 
piggee f oolee too muchee talkee in his hat : say is no 
piggee jossee ! " and recognized in this a phrase which 
had escaped from the mission night-school copy-book, 
and which, by disaster to the word " heart,'^ had been 
changed from ''The fool hath said in his heart" to 
"A big fool talked too much in his hat." 

So the doctor made himself warm with the ardor 
of rhyming. Thus, while not many blocks away the 
little wife Sum Fay lay awake with the tiny Sum Oo 
asleep on her breast, and while the mother's melting 
eyes kept forming images of her husband in the dark, 
and she sighed and sobbed between hope and wretched 
fear, the doctor had even forgotten that he was sit- 
ting in a coffin, with the hour well past midnight, and 
the evidence of fiddle and pipe and maudlin festivity 
lessening in that neighborhood, and perhaps Sum 
Chow in extreme torture either in the hospital or in 
some place unknown. And when at length Sum Fay 
had fallen asleep with exhaustion, and the tiny Sura 
Oo heaved on the mother's breast like a voyager on a 
miniature sea, three long hours had passed, and the 
learned Dr. Wing Shee had finished the following 
English poem : 

How mun nee mah kee wah sun mai turn ? 
How mun nee tay 'ko ah lee mah kee cum ? 
You mak hop pee tem ; yaw fah mee lee 
Ah too mut chee wai tai ; no kun shee! 
You no me ? 

" And to think," sighed the doctor, " that, instead 
of staying by literature, I stampeded off to the wars ! 
Instead of a leg-mender I might have been a laureate. 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 105 

^ Ah too mut chee wai tai j no kiin shee ! ' Ah, Lao- 
Tse, but there 's inspiration in this box ! " 

He softly unlocked the lid, and came out to scan 
the street through Pow's dilapidated blinds. For the 
moment there was no one in sight. Quickly he shut 
himself in again. A match was ready with its end 
embedded in putty so that the phosphorous was barely 
exposed. The putty fitted the bamboo tube, and when 
he sent this missile flying across the narrow street, 
propelled from the tube by an explosion of his breath, 
it disappeared within the hospital, through the port, 
without a sound. The flying-machine was completed. 

Sum Chow was in the hospital. He had been lured 
there by one to whom once he had given alms. The 
WTetch had watched in the crowded thoroughfare 
for a man of distinguished dignity, wearing a rich 
blue tunic with bright gilt button-balls, and light 
blue silken trousers wrapped at the ankles. Sum 
Chow liked snowy linen stockings and shoes embroid- 
ered in silver; his long cue shone with careful braid- 
ing, and his head and face were always shaved close 
in Chinese elegance. He hardly betrayed the power 
of attack which had made his envied success. That 
day he had gone to Hatchet Run to pay for a golden 
love-bangle for littlest Oo. The appointed traitor had 
begged a hearing in the hospital entry, and there six 
brutal Sing Song hatchet-men had soon prevailed 
over Chow's single strength. He had battered two 
of them, but the others had thrust him into a big 
jute bag, and when they carried him wriggling 
through the wards and up the garret ladder, the pa- 
tients thought it merely a crazy opium-fiend. The 



106 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

hatcliet-men had emptied the bag through the trap 
to the brick floor, and Chow had been stunned, and 
had wakened to find himself cold and stiff in semi- 
darkness, at first he knew not where. He liad put 
his mouth to the hole in the wall and called for help 
in all the languages he knew, but no one had heard 
him. He had lain aching for hours afterward, dur- 
ing which Ok Hut's menial had lowered a bowl of 
water and some American bread. These he had 
avoided with fear ; and so hunger sharpened, and he 
steruly set his face to the fate which he felt was pre- 
paring. He wondered if his shade could protect his 
little wife and his littlest Oo, or if death was even 
harsh in that. Midnight found him cramped and 
bowed. The strange thing which suddenly struck 
the inner wall, and fell a-flame at his side, was start- 
ling even to Chow. 

It smoldered and died. In a moment another mis- 
sile, with more wood exposed to the flame, struck and 
ignited. He seized it, and it burned brightly long 
enough for him to notice that immediately following 
it a waxen taper, tipped with its balancing putty ball, 
had shot through the air port, long, white, and un- 
mistakable. He lighted it, and the cell port appeared 
from without to be faintly illumined. When his eyes 
had changed to meet the light, the wondering Chow 
picked up a scroll, and instantly recognized the brush- 
work of the doctor. He read : 

How many markee was on my thumb ? 
How many days 'go allee markee come ? 
You make liappy time ; your family 
Are too muchee wet-eyed : no can see ! 
You know me ? 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 107 

He bounded into life, and waved the taper past the 
port three times for the spots the doctor had shown 
him the night before, and then, after a pause, nine 
times for the days they had stayed on the thumb nail. 
So that Chow, drawing on a thread that flew in at- 
tached to a pebble, was not sui^prised to find one end 
of a Chinese telephone, and then to hear the voice of 
his friend : 

"Worship the gods for this preservation, hearty 
brother," it whispered. " Your little Fay and little Oo 
and the stripling all fare well, though wet-eyed that 
you stay away ; and be felicitated on their mighty love. 
Now first I will shoot you a dinner of dried ducks' 
hearts in tiny gelatin capsules — those capsules which 
the 'Melicans use to hide the taste of their grimacing 
drug kwai)i-nai-inj but which were long conceived be- 
fore the year of their principal joss by one Muk Ah 
Muk, who confined in them the bubblesome spirits he 
extracted from his ten meek wives." 

So that as he fell asleep, bodily contented and hope- 
ful for the morrow, Sum Chow murmured for the 
tenth time : 

" With the gods I never associated; but of mortals 
surely the greatest is Dr. Wing Shee ! " 

The letter which reached the saddened curio shop 
told in the doctor^s Chinese-written English that the 
big yellow tea-pot was not smashed, but endured in 
eternal tenderness for its little cup and its littlest 
saucer and the young spoon. Sum Ah (the young 
spoon) translated this for joyous Sum Fay (the little 
cup), and she danced Sum Oo (the littlest saucer) on 
her knee, who laughed and gurgled and behaved not 



108 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

like a demure Cantonese, but like any sprite amused 
by its own lialf helplessness. Tlie light seemed now 
to warm the strange and beautiful wares to Vjrighter 
tones, and Sum Fay set gaily to dust them before a 
customer from the foreign devils' world should send 
her scuttling in her slii)pers back to the penetralia j 
and when the heli)er Yang took up his books in an 
easier mood, and rattled the buttons on the abacus, 
Sum Ah sang a mission hymn of hallelujah. The 
better feeling lasted well into the day; but though 
in the afternoon Sum Fay walked abroad behind Sum 
Ah, and bravely smiled and chatted with him that 
none might suspect her woe, twilight fell with deeper 
melancholy. Dr. Wing had given no hope for the 
future. If the beloved had been free, he would have 
run to lind liis wife and his funny baby. 

In the small hours of another weary night Sum 
Chow sat on the damp cell floor despairing again. In 
the morning Ok Hut had come to the trap and 
beamed down, wearing the rings the hatchet-men had 
wrested from Chow. Ok Hut had observed with an 
affectation of scientific glee the signs of the first day's 
suffering and tlien had departed. Tlie hours had 
dragged without incident, and darkness had come, 
and then midnight, with ominous sounds from the 
pauper ward, and two o'clock, with its anxious expec- 
tancy ; and th(;n the appointed time had passed with 
no token from Dr. Wing. The picture kept growing 
in Chow's mind of the doctor, dead and cold in Pow 
Len's coffin at the hands of the Sing Song Tong, and 
then of a cortege, with little Fay mourning the friend 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 109 

of her widowhood. By now he had hoped to be free. 
The plan had been to cut a hole in the trap, which 
would serve when he jumped and reached through to 
slide the bolt. But the sawing of wood in the still- 
ness of night must be slow and exceedingly careful ; 
and now it was late for beginning, and he had yet no 
tools. 

Across the way the learned doctor, with the peanut- 
oil lamp like an aureole above his head, was standing 
motionless in the dim mahogany casket, frowning at 
sounds from the hospital. The doctor's trusted omens, 
whether he consulted the spots on his neighbor's cloth, 
or the bundle of crooked sticks in the pewter mug, or 
which way a bug ran under the burning-glass, had 
haunted him still with the uncanny number one and 
a half. He waited, alert for good or evil containing 
that clement. The moans in the pauper ward were 
holding him back. They rose from a wretch in the 
sinking stage of the ojnum-habit, one of those whom 
the sick-pay tongs sent thither to save the drain on 
their treasuries. Ok Hut was accustomed to give 
these victims a draught which promised relief to their 
agonies, and then, in the most exquisite dream of their 
lives, they floated out of the world with never a mur- 
mur at fate, and the societies gained, and Ok Hut 
prospered, and the coroner was amused. Sometimes 
were heard for a moment those screams that went 
with the final plight of the smoke fiends, when, as 
frequently happened, they suddenly lost their minds 
and ran amuck; but then Ok Hut, if they refused the 
fatal dose, would shut them in the secret cell, stuffing 
the air port with rags. The doctor feared that such 



110 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

might happen to-uight in the midst of Chow's en- 
deavor. 

But the groans subsided, and the lights from the 
hospital windows lessened, and Hatchet Run was left 
in silence. Sum Chow heaved a mighty sigh as the 
telephone pebble flew in; and now he pulled on the 
endless rope-yarn rigged across the street by the doc- 
tor, and brought in the tools through the air-port. 
Also the doctor sent a small round object in many 
thicknesses of wadding. 

"Handle it like a new-born babe," he had whispered; 
"for in it are crowded winds of whirling waterspouts, 
and thunder of falling mountains, and flashes of furi- 
ous flame. 'T is a pot of frightful doom, tuned to 
the omens with one and a half frog-'s thumbs." 

Then Sum Chow poised on the emjjty water-bowl, 
and started the auger into the trap. But suddenly he 
paused. 

There had come a wild shriek from the pauper ward, 
with commotion and the smashing of a chair and the 
calls of the terrified sick. Ok Hut had been deceived. 
The opium fiend had not been done for ; he had risen 
up and fallen on Ok Hut in his sleep, throttling him, 
and screaming that the room was hot with fiery de- 
mons. 

♦' Ah ! " muttered the doctor, in alarm. " The noise 
will scurry them all from their beds. Ah ! " 

Sum Chow withdrew the auger, and listened. They 
were dragging the madman up the ladder; they were 
going to throw him also into the cell. The ladder 
broke, and three men fell to the floor with a crash. 
That meant a delay, thought Chow. He sunk the 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 111 

auger into a beam close by the trap, and worked un- 
til it was twisted firmly several inches into the wood. 
Now it was stout enough to hold him when he hung 
to it by one arm — near enough to the trap to clutch 
the ankle of whomsoever should come to open it. 

Ok Hut's menial, a man from the northern province 
of Chang Tung, great in stature, but no match in 
quickness for a well-built Cantonese, was treading 
along the garret. Sum Chow sprang up and clung to 
the auger, and the door was raised in the dark. 

'•'' You are free," came the menial's voice, speaking 
falsely, as Chow well knew. " I will tie this cord, and 
you can climb up on it." 

This was a ruse. Ok Hut feared that the squad 
might have heard the cries, and might be closing in 
from the outside, suspicious of something irregular. 
They had done this once before, and then they had 
found simply a wretch beating out his brains against 
the hospital floor. But to-night they might have been 
warned and might be looking for Chow, though an 
appeal to the police on behalf of any Chinaman is 
improbable; and they might, when all expectation 
should subside, swoop suddenly down as they had be- 
fore. It was better to get Chow out and lock him in 
a chest in the garret, though at the risk of stifling 
him. Then the madman could be thrown into the 
cell, where if the squad came before his strength had 
been writhed away they would find at the worst but 
a poor victim whose condition, brought on by him- 
self, would not excite the anger of the law. The me- 
nial's invitation to Chow was a ruse which meant that 
when Chow's head was within reach a noose would 



112 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

be slipped over it, choking him, so that he would 
mutely follow the menial, for whatever temporary 
disposition might be made of him during the time. 

The menial waited for an answer, but the place was 
black and sUent. He spoke again, but his voice was 
returned by the walls of the cell. Then he went on 
his knees and struck a match, and thrust it down to 
be away from its sulphurous fumes. The match sput- 
tered its first blue flame, and at the same moment the 
menial's wrist was caught by two hands, and the full 
weight of Sum Chow came on the menial's arm with 
such sudden force that he fell forward, hitting his 
head on the trap-way, and then tumbled through to 
the floor of the cell, where he lay stunned. 

In the house on the other side of the street the doc- 
tor was breathlessly on tiptoe, with the telephone at 
his ear. The telephone line hung lax, and the hospi- 
tal was grimly still. 

"Go into the street, O bravest friend ! " at length 
came a trembling voice in the doctor's ear. *' Haul 
and hold fast on the cord. It hangs out from the hole 
in the wall. That one of us who lives shall avenge 
my little Fay, O friend ! my littlest Oo ! Haul and 
hold fast ! " 

" I hear," came the quiet answer. " Friends to live 
with — enemies to die with. Haul and hold fast ! " 

The doctor let himself noiselessly out of the coffin. 
It was dangerous to descend by the stairs. In a mo- 
ment he dropped from the window, three times his 
length, to the pavement. At first he lay as if disabled, 
but he soon staggered up, and found the cord that 
issued from the ceU port. The other end Sum Chow 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 113 

had tied around the meniaPs head and through his 
mouth to keep him silent, and Chow had made the man 
rise and had forced him against the cell port, where 
the doctor, now hauling and holding fast on the cord 
from the street below, held him powerless to move or 
speak. A long time seemed to pass while the doctor 
leaned back with the cord wrapped around his wrist. 
To him the hospital appeared to have regained its 
slumbers, and he pictured Sum Chow creeping stealth- 
ily along the garret toward the ladder-way. On 
the Run the swaying shop-signs squeaked in the 
gusty wind that was bringing the dawn. The doctor 
heard the steps of one of the squad on the intersect- 
ing street, and described the arc of a circle that 
brought him around the corner, still taut on the 
cord, but safe from observation. The policeman went 
by, and one approached from another way, and the 
doctor swung back into Hatchet Run. 

Sum Chow had climbed out of the cell. At a dis- 
tance he saw the faint light from the ladder- way, but 
heard nothing. In a few moments he walked toward 
it, knowing that the tread would be taken for that of 
the menial. At the ladder he peered cautiously over. 
The room was one apart from the sick wards, and no 
one was in it. The maniac seemed to have been 
quieted, and doubtless lay in his bunk. The prisoner 
hung by one hand, and dropped to the floor of the 
hospital ; at the same instant Ok Hut appeared at the 
door from the pauper ward, and stopped, transfixed 
with astonishment. For a moment the two men stood 
staring into each other's eyes. ^ 

" This is life or death to you," said Chow, in a low 

8 



114 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

tone. " Throw up your hands and turn your face to 

the wall." 

But Ok Hut did not obey. He kept his eyes on 
Chow, debating. Ok had no weapon, but there was 
one in the drawer of the table where the feeble lamp 
stood burning. Sum Chow also seemed unarmed, 
except for a small object which he grasped. Ok 
Hut waited, planning how to shorten the space 
between himself and the table, so as to make a dash 
and get it sooner than Chow could reach him. 
There was silence but for the snoring of those 
who slept in the pauper ward. Ok Hut seemed 
motionless ; but he was changing his weight from one 
foot to another, so that each time he was approaching 
a fraction of an inch nearer the weapon that lay in 
the drawer. 

Over in the other building some one was looking in 
perplexity from the window at the spectacle of the 
learned Dr. Wing Shee holding tight on a cord from 
the cell port. It might be friend or foe. The doctor 
jammed his slouch hat over his eyes, and felt for the 
revolver that was strapped to his forearm under his 
large sleeve. Soon the enemy would be down and 
out and at him, and there would be pistol shots and 
the hurry of the squad in the night. 

In the hospital the two men were gazing intensely 
into each other's eyes. Ok Hut was beginning to 
move by greater units, and his confidence began to 
return. 

''Stop!" said Chow, putting out his hand. "If 
you pass that crack in the board — " 

But Ok Hut made a leap for the table. In a twink- 



THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 115 

ling Chow, with all his might, hurled the pot of 
doom. 

A terrific explosion in Chinatown startled the hills 
of San Francisco, followed by cries, the jingle of 
window-glass, and the chattering of scared Chinese, 
and soon by comparative stillness. Sum Chow, with 
a flesh-wound in his cheek, came bounding down from 
the hospital into the arms of the doctor. Mingled 
cries were rising from the sick wards. The Run was 
filling with a crowd of all races that seemingly had 
sprung from nowhere. 

Already smoke was pouring from the hospital win- 
dows. 

^' Conceal your cut," commanded the doctor. ^^ Stand 
as though you were one of the crowd. In a moment 
the squad will be here, and then the ruthless water- 
snake men, with their chu-chu monster.'^ 

When the police thrust them aside, the two crossed 
to the door of a friendly merchant, and soon were 
hidden in the collecting throng. They stayed to see 
Ok Hut brought out insensible and bleeding from 
many wounds, and all the other inmates brought out 
safely. When Chow and the doctor knew that the 
building was doomed, they issued unmolested from 
the back of the store to another street, and made their 
way in the early light toward where little Fay lay 
awake, with her heart beating fast at the shouts and 
the clang of the fire-engines, with littlest slumbering 
Oo clasped tight to her bosom. 

That evening they sat about the dinner-table, wi^h 
Sum Ah and the helper Yang, who listened in admi- 



116 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 

ration, while liapp}- little Fay sat behind her spouse, 
and littlest Oo enchanted herself with the tip of the 
doctor's cue. 

"You — you risked your life for me!" said Chow, 
with something glistening in his eye. 

" And what is amusing," said the learned Dr. Wing 
Shee, who would have risked it again, '' is that they 
have amputated one of Ok Hut's legs at the knee. So 
that the omen ' one and a half* meant simply that he 
was doomed to issue from this with only one and a 
half of his two original legs ! I have to thank you 
for these very interesting and exciting days." 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB. 




EFORE me sits tlie Chinese — my 
friend who, when the hurly-burly 's 
done, spins me out the hours with 
narratives of ancient Yellow-land. 
His name is Fuey Fong, and he 
speaks to me thus : 
'' Missa Gordon, whatta is Chrisinjin Indevil Sho- 
shiety ? " 

I explain to him as best I can the purpose of the 
Society for Christian Endeavor. 

''We', dissa morning I go down to lailload station. 
Shee vay many peoples getta on tlain. Assa conduc- 
tor, 'Whatta is?' Conductor tole me-. 'You can't 
go. You a Tieejfen. Dissa Chrisinjin Indevil Sho- 
shiety.' 

" Dissa mek me vay tire'. 'Me'ican peoples fink ole 
China heeffen. Fink doan' know about Gaw of hef- 
fen. Dissa 'Me'icans doan' know whatta is. China 
peoples benieve Olemighty Gaw semma lika you." 

Fuey endures in meditation several moments. Then 
he says: 

" Missa Gordon, I tay you how about Gaw convert 
China clilimal?" 

" How God converted a Chinese criminal ? " 
" Yell. I tay you. Dissa case somma lika dis : 

119 



120 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 

^' One tern was China highrol). His nem was Chan 
Tow. Live by rob on pubnic highway evely one he 
can. Dissa highrob live in place call Kan Snh. We', 
one tern was merchan', nem Jan Han Sun, getta lich 
in Kan Suh j say hisse'f : ' I getta lich ; now mus' go 
home Tsan Ran Foo, shee my de-ah fadder-mndder- 
in-'aw an' my de-ah wife.' So med determine to go 
home nex' dav- 

" Kan Suh to Tsan Ran Foo about dousands miles 
distant, and dissa parts China no lailload, no canal. 
So dissa trivveler declude to ride in horse-carry-chair." 

'^ What is a horse-carry-chair ? " 

^' We', I tay you. Somma like dis : Two horse — 
one befront, one inhine. Two long stick, and carry- 
chaii- in minnle. Usa roop somma lika harness. Dissa 
way trivvle long distance ole ove' China. 

^' We\ nex' day Missa Jan start out f aw Tsan Ran 
Foo in horse-carry-chair. Hed big backage of go' an' 
sivver. By-by — triwle long tem — was pass high 
tree. Up high tree was Chan Tow — dissa highrob — 
was very bad man ! Chan Tow up tree to watch to 
stea' whatta he can, semma lika vutture." 

^' Like a viitture f '^ 

" Like a vutture — big bird — eat dead beas' ole he 
can. 

"Chan Tow look down on load, and shee horse- 
carry-chau- wif Missa Jan feet stick out. Nen dissa 
highrob say hisse'f : ^ Vay nice feet ; lich man. I go 
fonnow him. Mavbe can stea' from him.' So fonnow 
'long Missa Jan by day, by night, severow day — doan' 
lose sight ole dissa tem. By-by Missa Jan was triv- 
vle ole night, and leach hotel early morning. He tole 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 121 

hotel-kipper: 'You giva me loom. I slip ole day.' 
Nen tek his backage go' an' sivver, an' tek to bed wif 
him. Chan Tow come long, say : ' Giva me loom 
nex' my de-ah frien' jussa come in horse-carry-chair.' 
Hotel-kipper look him, and say, ' Whatta your nem 
is ! ^ Chan Tow say, ' My nem Chow Ying Hoo.' 
Dissa nem, transnate Ingernish, mean Brev Tiger." 

" And what does Chan Tow mean ? " 

" Oh, Chan Tow mean ole semma bad f aminv. 

'^ We', dissa highrob slip nex' loom Missa Jan j but 
no can fine how to rob him ole dissa tem. Getta vay 
much disgussion ; but nex' day he f onnow long inhine 
dissa lich man jussa semma befaw. Somma tem eat 
at semma tabuh wif Jan ; but Jan getta begin to sus- 
picious, an' ole tem getta his go' an' sivver unnerneaf 
him when he shet down to tabuh. Chan Tow say his- 
se'f: 'You fink I doan' know how to shucshess to 
stea' yo' money. Maybe I big foo' you.' 

"We', by-by was mont' go by. Dissa merchan' 
reach his netive sheety. Firs' he go immedinity to 
respec' his fadder-mudder-in-'aw, becose his fadder- 
mudder dead. Dey vay gnad to shee him — vay de- 
night. Dey assa him vay many quishuns ; but he tole 
dem : ' I mus' go to my de-ah wife. I not sheen her 
so long tem.' Nen he smi' hisse'f , an' tole horse-carry- 
chair-man run wif him quick to fine his de-ah wife. 
When he allive ne' his house, say to man : " Goo' -by ! 
I go ressa way on feetsteps.' Nen go vay quier on his 
tiptoe, and lock vay soft at his daw." 

Here pauses the Chinese, and looks at me. Shortly 
he says : 

" We' ? " 



122 CHAIs^ TOW, THE HIGHROB 

'' Well f '' I echo. 

" We', dissa last tern dissa merehan' Jan Han Sun 
was sheen annibe ! " 

" Does the highrob follow him and kill him? " 

'^ No one shee any highrob. No one see any horse- 
caiTv-chair-man. No one shee any Jan. No maw ! 

" Nex' morning come fadder-mudder-in-'aw to con- 
gratchnate dissa daughter. Said, ' We vay denight, 
vay gnad, yo' husban' come home. Where he is dissa 
morning ? Daughter look vay supp'ise'. Said, ' When 
you shee my husban' come home ? ' Parents said : 
' Whv, my de-ah daughter, yo^ husban^ pass by my 
daw las' night. We hev vay short convisition beged- 
der, an' he say bling home glate many go' an' sivver 
— mek you habbv. Nen left us come shee you.' 

" Nen, vay suddenity, dissa daughter say : 'I fink 
you ki' my husban', so you can rob! I hev you 



arres'.' 



" An' she go to magistrate an' mek petition. Say 
her fadder-mudder to ki' her husban'. Her fadder- 
mudder bofe vay indignant ; but was putta in jai'. 

^'Magistrate examine case, assa many quishuns, 
search bofe dissa house — but can't fine who mudder 
dissa merchan'. Fadder-mudder-in-'aw say, ' We in- 
nocent.' Daughter say, 'You liars!' Her parents 
med declaration, ' I doan' hed mudder to any person.' 
Two mont's go by. Can't find who mudder. Nen 
daughter petition to supere court ; say dissa magis- 
trate doan' know how fine who mudder. Supere court 
send word, 'You doan' fine who mudder in six mont's 
— decade vo' lank.' Dissa China way to mek law. 

" We', dissa magistrate, whatta he do ! Doan' like 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 123 

getta deglade j dissa spoi' his whole life. Say hisse'f : 
' I vay detest to get deglade. Miis' go mek detectif — 
fine who mudder.' Nex' day left his court, and go 
mek long trivvle — ole dress np like a f ortune-tayer." 

"Like a fortune-teller?'^ 

" Yeh ; fortune- tayer. Vay low common in China. 
Go roun' wif ole kine bad j^eoples. 

'' Magistrate look jussa semma somma poll fortune- 
tayer. Nen go out on load an' trivvle — trivvle vay 
far. Eve'y tem shee a man look lika somma bad man, 
try mek frien's wif him. But no can fine who mudder. 
Long tem trivvle — 'wa}^ intehuh China j but no can 
fine any one knows about dissa case. Say hisse'f: 
' Pitty soon I getta much discoulagement. Two 
mont's maw, getta deglade, getta disglace! I doan' 
know I ki' hisse'f ! ' 

" One day was stag' long load 5 getta mos' exhaus'. 
Bofe sides load was high heels, no house. Kep' on, 
on 5 semma heels 5 semma no house 5 mus' lie down 
in load wifout any subber, wifout any dlink. Dissa 
magistrate begin getta desplate. Nen he fink, ^ I play 
to G-aw an' my ancestors.' So begin play lika diss : 
'O Gaw, O my ancestors, givva me res' 5 givva me 
foo' ; givva me wadder ! Nen I kip on f awever fine 
who ki' Jan Han Sun.' Nen magistrate stag' 'long 
few steps, an' dlop down on big lock. No can any 
fudder. 

" Pitty soon look roun' ; shee litty light shine from 
winnidow. Dissa was littyoshantyhouse — vay poll 
look — " 

'^ Littyoshantyhouse ? " 

" Litty — ole — shanty — house ! 



124 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 

"We', magistrate go lock at daw. Come to daw 
littyoueddy — " 

" Little old what ? '^ 

" Litty — ole — neddy ! 

'^Dissa oueddy she was vay ole, vay febble. He 
tole her : ' Please, oneddy, you givva me kunderness 
let me go slip in yo' house to-uight ! I 'mos' died. 
No subber, no wadder — mos' exhaus' ! ' Oneddy tole 
him : ^ Walks in ; walks in ! But you mus' kip vay 
quier, my de-ali sir ; as quier as can be ! My son is 
dreffel different man. His profussion was highrob. 
He getta home minnernight ; an' you doan' kip quier, 
I fred he to strike you!' But magistrate say: 'I 
too tire to getta scare'. You nedda me stay wif you.-' 

" So oneddy giva him to eat, an' show him to go 
slip unner tabuh in katchen. Nen he lie down, an' 
play once more his ancestors an' Gaw : ^ You he'p me 
oleleddy; I kip plomise. You he'p me somma maw 
— I fine who mudder.' Nen go slip. 

" By-by was dleam 'bout gleen moudens, gleen 
wadder. Hear' spi'its say, ' I wi' assist you.' Ole 
dissa vay good sign. Suddinity was wek up from his 
slip, and shaw oneddy stand bef aw him — ole in dark. 
She say : ' My son come home in vay good humors. 
Say lika mek yo' acquaintance.' Dissa tem was min- 
nernight. Magistrate craw' out from unner tabuh, 
an' fonnow oneddy in nex' loom. Heah was Chan 
Tow, dissa highrob. Was fee' in vay good tempini- 
ment to-night — hedda jus' rob litty gii-' her earlings." 

" It made him very happy to have stolen earrings 
fi'om a little girl ? " 

" Oh, yell. Earlings med jay-stone. 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 125 

"We', Chan Tow lie vay deuigiit to shee dissa for- 
tune-tayer. Mek put liisse'f down to tabuh, eat sub- 
bah wif him, an' mek oneddy hop 'long getta ole bes' 
was in oshantyhouse. Chan Tow say : ' My de-ah sir, 
I am exceediny denight to shee you. We bofe about 
sem prof ussions : you f oi'tune-tayer ; I was highrob.' 
Nen bofe eat, dlink long tem, an' Chan Tow tay ole 
about his shucshess in binniziz." 

" You mean business ? " 

" Yell ; binniziz. 

" Tay ole about his binniziz. Tay how stea' watch 
from ^Me'ican missiolary man. Tay how — " 

'' How did he steal the watch from the American 
missionary ? " 

" We', somma lika dis : Chan Tow was vay stlong 
man, but vay litty meat on his boles. One day shee 
missiolary man come 'long load. Hedda watch-chain 
hang out. Chan Tow lie down in load, an' begin kick 
an' scleam ole semma sick white woman. Missiolary 
man was vay sympafy, an' tole him, 'Whatta is?' 
Chan Tow say: 'Mucha vay sick! Much vay sick! 
You no he'p me home I getta died ! You tekka me 
home I mek good Chrisinjin boy ! ' Missiolary man 
vay good man -, say hisse'f : ^ Gaw sen' me dissa man 
mek convict to Chrisinjanity. I he'p him ! ' So tek 
up Chan Tow in his arm to tek home. Chan Tow 
kep' gloan, gioan, — an' ole dissa tem was put his han' 
in missiolary his pocket an' stea' dissa watch ! Nen 
Chan Tow kep' hang on missiolary his neck an' say 
hisse'f : ' I lika dissa to ride better I lika to w^alk. I 
letta dissa missiolary man ca'y me jusso far he can.' 
So missiolary man stag' ^long tem 'long load, an' kep' 



126 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 

sweat, sweat — semma lika glass ice-wadder ; an' Chan 
Tow kep' gloan semma like ole barn daw." 

" Clian Tow kept groaning like an old barn door, 
and the missionary man kept perspiring like a glass 
of ice-water ? '' 

" Oh, no ! Missiolary man sweat. By-by, hedda 
ca'y dissa higlirob two miles — 'way down vanney, 
'way np heel. Nen missiolary man lose ole his breffs, 
an' begin to gaps. He say, ^Mus' res'; mns' pntta 
you down ! ' Chan Tow kep' gioan, an' say : ' You 
putta me down I doan' know I die. Mus' getta home ! ' 
Missiolary man say: ^ Can't he'p — I 'mos' exhaus'.' 
Nen dissa highrob jump down vay well, an' say: 
'We', I mus' getta home. I walk ressa way — leave 
you to res'. Goo'-by ! ' Nen run fas' he can down 
dissa heel. 

"Missiolary man stay look him run, an' kep' fink 
ole tem. Nen say hisse'f : ' I fink dissa man inshin- 
sherity. I lose ole dissa tem wif him ! Whatta tem 
it is ? ' Nen he search his watch. ^ Oh, my ! No 
watch ; no convict ! Dissa vay bad day ! " 

The Chinese grins with the greatest pleasure. 

" We', magistrate an' higlirob kep' tay ole 'bout ex- 
pelunces in binniziz." 

" Business ! " 

" Yep ; hinniziz." 

" Kep' tay ole about binniziz. By-by pea-oil liglit 
go out. Oneddy craw' up on bed an' go slip. Nen 
two men stay an' smoke pipe — ole dark. Magistrate 
closs his legs an' say, ole lika he doan' care : ' Missa 
Highrob, dissa light go out mek me remin' whatta 
habben Tsan Ran Foo. You heard about dissa case? 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 127 

Man nem Jan Han Sun go home his wife — no can 
fine who mudda.' Chan Tow smi' vay plou', an' say : 
' Oh, my de-ah brudder, I know ole 'bout dissa case. 
I was to shee dissa man getta ki' in his own houses.' 

" Magistrate dlaw giate big breff frough his pipe. 
Swallow smoke clea' down his stomach ! Mek big 
cough — nearny cough his top head off ! — an' wek 
oneddy ! Nen he say : ' We', we' ! You good dea' 
maw wise dissa Magistrate Tsan Ran Foo. I hea' he 
was deglade his rank. Cannot fine who mudder ! ' 

" Chan Tow say : ' Dissa magistrate mus' come fine 
me. No one ess can tay him. I tay you ole about 
dissa mudder. You lika hea' ? ' Magistrate say : ^ We', 
I vay tire'. But lika hea' you talk better I lika go 
slip, my de-ah sir ! ' Dissa mek highrob vay plou', an' 
he begin lika dis : 

" ' One day shaw horse-carry-chair trivvle 'long load. 
Shaw feet stick out — vay nice feet; mus' be lich man. 
So fonnow him. He hev big backage go' an' sivver, 
but eve'y tern go subbah mus' oleways sliet hisse'f on 
top dissa backage. Fonnow him long tem — severow 
weeks. But cannot stea' from him. By-by he 
reach his home Tsan Ran Foo, an' go to respec' his 
mudder-f adder-in-'aw 5 nen go fine his wife. Dissa 
tem was minnernight — vay dark. Fink was good 
tem to stea' from him, an' getta his go' an' sivver. So 
kep' fonnow 'long load. When he getta his house he 
lock long tem at his daw, but was no answer. Nen 
say, vay loud : " De-ah wife, letta me in ! I am yo' 
de-ah husban' come home." So by-by was daw open, 
an' his wife come say : '' Oh my de-ah husban' ! so 
denight to shee you!" Nen ole dark. 



128 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 

" ^ Nen I go roiin' back his house. Getta 'long bam- 
boo po', an' putta dissa po' up 'gainst house to shin up 
dissa loof . Nen cut with knife litty roun' ho' frough 
loof, an' look down into dissa house. Can look down 
into loom, an' shee ole whatta was liabben. 

" ' Vay soon Jan examine tabuh ; say : " O my de-ah 
wife, whatta for you setta dissa tabuh for two peo- 
ples ? You have comply ? " Wife say : '^ O my de-ah 
husban', eve y tem since you go 'way I setta dissa ta- 
buh for two peoples — you and me — jussa semma you 
heah ! " Jan smi' vay plou', an' say, '' You are shin- 
sherny my de-ah wife ! " — was mak fee' vay good. 

"'Nen his wife tole him: "Now we hev jubinee; 
eat, dlink — mek me'y tem ! " So I lie on top dissa 
loof, vay dly, vay hunger ; an' ole tem shee her hus- 
ban' eat subbah an' kip dlink, dlink, an' kiss his wife, 
an' dlink, an' getta maw an' maw intoshcate. By- 
by was so intoshcate mus' go slip. Nen his wife he'p 
him go bed, an' he begin snow." 

"How's that?" 

" Begin snow — snowul — snole ! Begin snole I " 

" It began to snow ? " 

" Oh, no ; I tay you. Dissa merchan' begin mekka 
lika dis." Fuey makes a sound that is unmistakable. 

" ' We', nen look shee whatta dissa woman go do. 
She go to hooks on wa', an' tek down lot her dresses. 
Nen I shee man step out. Dissa woman whisper to 
him : " Shee my husban' slip. He bling back glate 
many go' and sivver ! You love me, you tekka dissa 
sharp knife and ki' him. Nen we getta marry beged- 
der to-morrow, an' mek habby tem." 

Her beau say : " Oh, no. I fred ki' him. Fred I 



Ui 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 129 



get behead." An' nen dissa woman getta vay mad 
wif him, an' say : " You doan' ki' him, I tekka dissa 
knife an' chot op yo' head op, instamentty ! " Nen he 
begin tek off his mine — ' " 

'' Took off his mind ? " 

"Yeh," says Fuey; "I don't know dissa word — 
semma you tek off yo' clo's.'^ 

'^ Changed his mind ! " 

" Yeh." 

'^ ' Begin to tek off — chenge his mine — an say : 
''How I ki' him?" Woman say: "You tekka dissa 
sharp knife." 

" ' Nen he clep' up to dissa bed, his eye ole stick out 
from his head. When he getta where dissa merchan' 
slip, an' snow, snow, ole semma hev good dleam, 
dissa beau mek lika was to chenge his mine 'gainj 
but dissa woman whisper : " Quick ! Quick ! " — an' 
nen ole sudden dissa beau stlike. Nen Jan Han Sun 
was died — instamentty ! 

" ' Dissa woman begin to rip up flaw. Her beau 
he'p her ole he can, an' work vay hard, fas' — fred 
somebody come. Kep' look 'roun'. An' eve'y tern 
pea-oil light flicker, look round to shee who was. Ole 
tem stop to hoi' his ear on flaw — shee who come. 
Flaw rip up ; nen go getta shover an' dig big long ho' 
in earf, unnerneaf dissa bed. Nen putta dissa mer- 
chan' his body in dissa ho' in groun'. Nen vay quick 
shover back ole dissa earf, fix flaw, an' blow out light. 

" ' Ole tem I stay up dissa loof . Vay hunger — no 
wadder; an' cannot rob dissa merchan' becose he 
dead ! Getta vay disgussion. Light go out, I hang 
foot ove' side dissa loof, an' begin fink. Maw I fink, 

9 



130 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 

maw getta disgussion. By-by getta vaij, vay dis- 
gussiou. Nen tek dissa bamboo po' to shove frougli 
dissa ho' in loof — vay quiei*. When he shove f rough, 
nen I ole suddenity begin push, jab, shove — quick — 
ole semma churn budder. Down below woman an' 
her beau begin squea', squea', ole semma rat ! 'Mos 
scare' to def ! Nen I shin down loof — run 'way.' " 

Fuey draws a long breath, and smiles at me his 
calm, celestial smile. 

^'We', Chan Tow finis' his sto'y. Magistrate was 
ole tem smoke big clou's smoke, an' mek loom look 
lika was on fire. Mek oneddy wek up an' open daw. 
Wlien Chan Tow finis', magistrate say: 'My de-ah 
brudder de highrob, yo' sto'y vay intinesse, vay inti- 
nesse ! I fink I go slip.' So ole thlee was lie down 
to go slip, an' Chan Tow was tek liis opi' pipe an' be- 
gin smoke opi.' Wliatta you say — hurt the pipe?" 

'' Hit the pipe." 

'' Oh, yell ; hit pipe. I doan' spe'k Ingernish vay 
we'. 

"Magistrate wet long tem. By-by oneddy begin 
to snow, an' nen by-by Chan Tow getta doan' 
know." 

'' Chan Tow got donH Jcnoiv f " 

" Getta all semma was died. Doan' know." 

" Unconscious ? " 

'^ Yeh ; uh-uh-coshious ! " sneezes Fuey. 

'' Nen magistrate begin craw' 'long on his stomach 
— inchy — inchy — cross flaw out daw. Nen run fas' 
he can toward Tsan Ran Foo. 

'' One mont' go by, an' magistrate sit up in his high 
chaii' in his court. Befront him dissa woman an' her 



CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 131 

beau, — ole cover wif mark dissa bamboo po', — an' 
dissa f adder-mudder-in-'aw, an' dissa highrob. Magis- 
trate say vay slow — ole semma idol talk : ' Dissa — 
woman — her lover — are convert — to behead — by hev 
dey heads cut off — till deij dead! What yon fink, 
woman ? ' Woman say : ' Yo' Excennency, I vay gnad 
to be behead wif my de-ah lover. I vay satisfaction ^ 
we behead begedder. Our spi'its begedder happy 
fo'ever.' Nen she turn kiss her beau; but he too 
scare to spe'k. An' bof was tek out to behead — dissa 
woman ole tem to mek to kiss her beau. 

" Magistrate say to highrob : ' You know me ? 
Who eata subba wif you sucha-sucha night ? ' Chan 
Tow say, ' O yo' Excennency, 1 doan' know who was ! ' 
Magistrate say : ' I was dissa man. I glate t'anks faw 
you. Awso dissa fadder-mudder-in-'aw dissa dead 
man. Gaw sen' me to yo' house to mek you instlu- 
ment to convert dissa mudderers. I give you good 
position ; awso money.' " 

"And that was how these criminals were con- 
verted?^^ I say, remembering the promise of the 
story. 

'' Yeh ; convert to behead. Dissa case," concluded 
Fuey, " show how Gaw can convert climinal when he 
wish ; show how Gaw is glate. I tay you China peo- 
ples not heeffen. China 'ligion teach to try to affec- 
tion one anudder ; respec' yo' parents ; an' charity an' 
pure moral. If people do right I fink he shall be 
saved." 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 




HE train whisked off in a dust, and, 
for the fii'st time in his life, the son 
of Alexander the Liberal and of 
Violet the Modern had parted from 
them. They were his playmates ; 

and a passage of clouds across the 

sun would have swung the balance to tears. But it 
was Maine, and a blithesome July day, and Uncle 
Jasper Bennett was light-hearted when he forgot his 
Maker. They rattled off behind the angular mare 
Polly between stone- walls and stony fields and under 
hemlock-trees. How soon? asked the Boy. Were 
there any little pigs— any little bits of ones? Was 
there yet a spinning-wheel — a real one, and not like 
those that were only made? And, last and most, 
O, were there still some fishes in that dark, deep pool, 
down beneath the willows ? 

At length loomed the homestead, in a setting of 
mighty elms ; low sheds, and a vast red barn with the 
swallows in and out, and a stark white dwelling-house 
with sleeping blinds. In the orchard a score of grave- 
stones — a ghostly garden of Bennetts since the cen- 
tury came in; and, standing on the porch by the 
kitchen door. Aunt Hepzibah. 

She was comely, though they said her eyes were 

136 



136 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

cold, like tlie clouded sea; and she was wonderfully well 
preserved. She had never suffered in her forty years. 
Her faith in Providence had been too great ; and the 
elements of sorrow had evaporated from her, leaving 
but certain lines to mark the lack. She was as neat 
as a chui-ch, and as quick as the wrath of God. 

Now into the ear of this godless child, Hepzibah 
plotted something to whisper; and for the results 
thereof she would modestly, but fii-nilv, claim her re- 
ward in heaven. 

She supposed he was hungr3\ She advised him to 
feel right at home, and not act bashful-like. 

^' Thanks very much ; I will," said Gerald, studying 
her face with polite composui'e. " Please may I see 
your little pigs ? ■' 

^' You c'n wait t'l ye 'v e't, can't ye ? 'Member how 
the Lodd di"uv the evil sperrits int' the bawdies of 
swine, don't ye ? " said Hepzibah, as a test. 

^'Yes," said the young person in knickerbockers; 
"but I don't believe that. I think some bees mus' 
have stinged them — stang them. And then they 
went in swimming. Papa Zander sent his compli- 
ments. He bought me a splendid fis'-line. I '11 go 
and see the little pigs after I 've had something to 
eat." 

But when he had eaten the western sky was shot with 
gold, and in the tangled garden the mwiad petunias 
and pansies and maiden pinks had gone to sleep. He 
made a nosegay, and put it in a vase on his bureau, 
about half-way between the photographs of his parents. 
It was a trifle nearer Violet's, because you must favor 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 137 

the womeu. Then he sat oppressed by the spare- 
room's gloom, while Jasper read Isaiah downstairs, 
and Hepzibah finished the dishes. He listened to the 
file of crickets' wings, and everywhere, in nnison and 
out, the whistling of frogs j and the sounds were 
suggestive of night-damp and of disasters lurking for 
Mama Violet and Papa Zander. Hepzibah came to 
say good night, and then departed, leaving the room 
in a fog. He must hurry to use Mama Violet's home- 
sick medicine — to keep repeating Jieimweh., German j 
mal-du-pays, French; and the Italian cM patisce la 
nostalgia, — and thus cheat the blues of a language 
lesson. And he must remember that it was only two 
nights and a day ; then he would meet Mama Violet's 
train at the station, and they would journey on to 
find Papa Zander. Besides, to-morrow would bring 
the fishing, at the beautiful pool, down beneath the 
willows. 

He blew out the feeble lamp and crawled between the 
damp sheets, with the fish-line in his hand. To-mor- 
row at the pool was lovely to think of ! But he wished 
he had Mama Violet's kiss. 

He hung the line over the bedside, and shut his 
eyes, trying to feel himself lying on the mossy bank 
in the leaf-latticed sunlight, waiting for a fish. The 
line swung slowly to and fro in the dark, and the boy 
kept mournfully thinking in time to it — Jieimiveh, mal- 
du-pays, che patisce la nostalgia ! — until all the words 
ran into one, and the line dragged, and the fingers 
loosened, and the little hook dropped on the floor. 

To-morrow would be Sunday. 



138 A LITTLE LIBERAL 



n 

A PEWEE made its woodland sigh, suited to sunny 
weather ; but a robin announced that it would rain. 
The boy threw back the blinds that had darkened the 
room. The day seemed glorious. Between the apple- 
trees across the road he could see down to the salt 
creek where emptied the water from the stream that 
made the fishing-pool. In the creek the tide was high 
and still, and a forest of oaks and spruce and ash was 
mirrored in it from its granite bank, where stretched 
along a garland of deep blue harebells, mingled with 
yellow St. John'swort. Beyond and away were dense 
green forests, and, far above them, the faint carving 
that brings a sense of distance and of solitude, and 
the resin smell and the music of the pines. 

How foolish had been the Jieimweh when there was 
fishing to-day down beneath the willows ! 

" Please, Uncle Jasper," said Gerald, as he sat at 
breakfast, raised to theii- level by a great Bible, ^' I 
wis' you would show me the exact spot where Papa 
Zander used to fis' — the place where papa made you — 
where," corrected the Boy, coloring, " you and he had 
a fi — fuss one Sunday about the Bible. I have a 
splendid fis'line, and splendid hooks." 

"'T was jest one them times," explained Jasper, 
slowly, in answer to his wife, " when the good Lodd 
see fit to chasten the one He loved best. I wa'n't 
feelin' any tew pert." 

"No," said the Boy, sympathetically, ''after you 
were chastened you felt jus' like a wet rag. Papa 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 139 

Zander says it was tlie Lord's day, but that it was n't 
the Lord's day. It was whether Lazarus was really 
dead, Aunt Hepzibah, or had an epilepsic fit and jus' 
thought so." 

Jasper's mind seemed miles away. Hepzibah looked 
absently at the child. 

" Aunt Hepzibah," said the Boy, at length attacking 
the silence, " this — this holy volume is very conve- 
nient." 

'' Don't s' pose you have one t' home ? " she said. 

^^ O, yes. Papa says it 's an interesting book." 

" Dews he ! S 'pose he takes good care 't you sha'n't 
read it ? " 

" Well, I may have the firs' expurgated edition. He 
says someone mils' have publis'ed one — for young 
people." 

" S 'pose he ^d let 'em exp'gate the good Lodd right 
out of it ! " 

'^ O, no — the Lord 's all right," said the Boy. " But 
if he had to esplaiu me everything in the Bible he 
says he 'd die before he did. That 's what expurgate 
means ; it 's the only word ever Mama Violet could n't 
esplain me — it 's so long. But Papa Zander knew ! 
It 's Latin, you see ; purgo, I make short ; expurgo, I 
make extra short. And that's what ought to be done 
with the Bible." 

Jasper and Hepzibah stared at each other ; and for 
some minutes Gerald listened to the ticking of the 
clock. 

'' I don't suppose you '11 have time to go fis'in with 
me to-day, Uncle Jasper," he essayed, at length. " I 'm 
going — " 



140 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

" Yuss/' said Hepzibah, '^ you ^re goin' t^ meetin^ 
'long 'th lis." 

<' Why — what f " said the Boy. " Is it Sunday ? " 

" I sh 'd say ^t was. ' Bout the first one 't ever hap- 
pened, guess.'' 

^' ! " said the Boy, vainly searching Hepzibah's 
countenance. '' If I 'd known that, I should n't have 
come prepared to fis'. What a diffunce ! " 

He dragged himself upstairs and emptied his pock- 
ets. AU he had come for was to fis', down beneath 
the wallows ; and now he must preen and be taken off 
in the broiling sun. If after church he spoke of dig- 
ging for worms it was plain that Aunt Hepzibah would 
have a fit. It was for this then that he had fought 
off Jieimweh; and now there was to be another night. 
Life was full of hardships, and the Bennett homestead 
was losing its charm. He heard the ancient pump 
yielding water with rusty and crabbed complaints, and 
Polly, the mare, drank with a sAvigging noise very ill- 
bred. The bell of the Hard Pine Methodists and that 
of the Cedar Creek Baptists were jarring and clashing 
across the narrow stream between them, over their 
respective creeds. If a little boy came to visit Papa 
Zander and Mama Violet, thought Gerald, perspiring 
over his collar-button, he would n't be hauled off to 
a meeting-house and expected to sit up stiff in a 
wooden pew ! Would it be right to steal away this 
afternoon and quietly exploit the historic pool? It 
would be awful fun ; but perhaps Mama Violet would 
say it was n't very polite and may be Papa Zander 
would think it was n't quite frank ; and it would be 
a sort of fib, too — one of those you don't tell, but do. 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 141 

which is just as bad. He wished he had stayed with 
Papa Zander ! 

Of coiu'se there were clouds coming over the sun, 
and the atmosphere was gro^\ing miserably humid. 
Jasper was attaching Polly to the wagon. 

" I don't suppose you '11 go if it rains," said the Boy 
with a faint hope, waving towards the threatening sky. 

^' Never missed it 'n ten years," said Jasper ; " nor 
Hepzibah 'n twenty." 

" But if it rains awful hard, so hard that umbrellas 
and mackintoshes and everything won't keep you dry, 
what do you do ? " 

" We git wet," said Jasper. 

They wedged him, hot and wi-etched, in between 
them, and mth a "Git up, Pawley — dew!" they 
started off. " ' Pawley ' ! " sniffed the Boy to himself. 
What a horse ! An abbreviation of polygon — irregu- 
lar, meandering, knock-kneed polygon ! 

" See that long man comin' up the road," said Hep- 
zibah. "That 's Cory Judd. He 's a very gawd- 
less man, V he never goes t' meetin' except when he 
wants to, 'n' he 's been known to catch fish of a Sun- 
day. He won't never go to heaven, but is most likely 
to be biled and pickled ! " 

" My ! " said the Boy . " What a long pickle he ^d 
make !. But it won't hurt when he 's dead, will it ? " 

"'T aint his bawdy, 't 's his soul — his immortal 
paht." 

" But I thought a soul was jus' air ? Do you think 
Papa Zander will be pickled '? " 

" Them that mawks the Lodd must breathe fiuh 'n' 
brimstun hereafter," said Hepzibah, solemnly. 



142 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

''But," said the Boy, innocently quoting Mama 
Violet, " you can't accept that sort of a thing nowa- 
days unless you throw your brains overboard." 

The elders appeared not to have heard him, and he 
took to examining the approaching figure of Cory 

Judd. 

" O," he said, suddenly, with as much breath as ho 
could get, "I know Cory Judd! One time he and 
papa were boys. And they took some of the — the 
underpins from the school-house one night when they 
were having a fuss inside about the minister, and Mr. 
Judd and papa teetered the school-house, and Aunt 
Hepzibah ran out and said the Lord had sent an 
earthquake." 

Uncle Jasper astonished the Boy with a biu'st of 
laughter. 

" Howdy dew, Cory," said Jasper, as they drew up 
under a willow, and the Boy sighed. '^ Jest heard who 
't was teetered the school-h'us'. You 're a sly one, 
you be ; but I alius suspected ye, blast if I ain't ! See 
— that w^as twenty years ago, come punkin-time, wa 'n't 
it ? O, I say, Cory, kinder like t' use youi' hay-press 
little t' mawi'er ; mine 's bust. I — " 

Mr. Judd had been regarding Hepzibah quizzically, 
recalling with great satisfaction the spectacle of her 
flight from the school-house twenty years ago. 

'' I alius knowed 't was you that teetered the school- 
h'us' ! " she exclaimed. " You alius was a gawdless 
man, 'n' you alius will be. Don't misdoubt but what 
you 're goin' fishin' now ! " 

Mr. Judd stood wdth his great hand on the muddy 
tire of the wagon- wheel ; he smiled faintly, and then 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 143 

pretended to erase the smile, and pulled a fish-line 
from his pocket. 

^'I 'm goin' to hang that there hook int' the water, 
where ^t belawngs," he began to drawl nonchalantly, 
stopping at frequent intervals to spit. " Then I 'm 
goin' t' kinder set ^n' callate a while 'bout how the 
Lodd come to make Hepzibah Bennett. Now 'f any 
fish comes a-flandanderin round that there worm 'n'in- 
terferin' 'th my callations, why, — I shall callate to haul 
him out out' dry tarritory, where such an inconsid'rate 
fish belawngs. For I callate that them what puts 
their noses int' what it ain't no pa't or pa'cel of them, 
why that they had ought to be somethin' did to ! " 

" S' pose you knowed 't was the Lodd's day," said 
Hepzibah, watching for an opening. 

" So 's the hull seven." 

" S'pose you knowed what the good book says." 

" Yuss 5 but I 'm pestered 'f I know what it means 
more 'n half the time; nor you neither; nor them 
that goes t' Cedar Creek." 

'' Cedar Creek ! " said Hepzibah, scornfully. " 'F 
you 'd walk reg'lar t' hear the gawspel, 'stead of actin' 
like you was half -fuddled, mebbe you 'd get nearer the 
Lodd's meanin'." 

" Huh ! " said Cory, with a show of feeling. " I 
oal'late when I 'm out 'n the sawlitude, a-listenin' to 
His music in the woods, I 'm a dahn sight nearer the 
Lodd 'n ever you be, Hepzibiah. I don't perk up per- 
pendicular 'n a pew, thinkin' plawts against the min- 
ister, b' gawsh ! " 

" Git up, Pawley ! " cried Hepzibah. ^^ I won't listen 
to no sech profanity." 



144 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

Polly scrambled off in a scandal ; and the Boy, 
twisting around, saw Cory grinning in the middle of 
the road. The Boy smiled back, then hove a tremen- 
dous sigh. Cory, regardless of the coming rain, was 
starting across the fields toward the willows. 

'^ You need n't be a-smirkiu', Jahsper Bennett," said 
his wife j '^ you ain't any tew blameless a man." 

" Yes," retorted Jasper, flushing, " 'n' how 'bout that 
hay press ? " 

The people with whom they fell in surmised who 
the little boy was with the gi'eat red bow. He had 
wavy hair, like Alexander's, and probably he was 
being trained in the light-heartedness for which his 
father was remembered. Hepzibah had never allowed 
Coosac to forget that Alexander and Violet Bennett 
were, to her belief, beyond salvation, except by a spe- 
cial dispensation which Hepzibah could never consci- 
entiously endorse ; but everybody knew why she kept 
Jasper asking for a visit from the Boy, — and her de- 
signs. So that they all craned to see him, and Hepzi- 
bah made various remarks to Jasper which showed 
how well she understood the shortcomings of the va- 
rious members of the Hard Pine congregation. 

The storm waited for the sermon, which was on the se- 
vere responsibility entailed by the possession of a soul. 
Then came lightning and thunder, growing apace 
with the force of the pastor's discourse. Whenever 
he pounded the desk a flash of lightning sprang ready 
from the heavens to drive his point home to the hearts 
of the sinners present. Deacon Stubb rose to close 
the blinds ; and the one he left open to illuminate the 
desk, shutting the window against the rain, touched 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 145 

the face of the pastor with a gray glamour, very im- 
pressive when alternated with the lightning. Things 
were being said about renegades from the teachings 
of their youth, and how their sins should be weighted 
on their blood even to the thu'd and foui-th dilutions. 
Hepzibah watched the Boy, and many of the congre- 
gation looked at him and nodded from time to time 
at the pastor's words. The little girl who sat alone 
next Gerald, turned often to examine him, with ap- 
proval mixed with regret, at what was gossiped. She 
was the Debney girl, and her people were sick. They 
were always sick, complained Hepzibah, with suspi- 
cion. The little girl was nervous, and frightened at 
the thunder. She was older than Gerald ; but it was 
nicer to sit close to him than to hug the division of 
the pews. The Boy had been lost in an envious mem- 
ory of Mr. Judd, and in self-demand whether he 
might in any propriety wander off to the pool after 
dinner. He had to conclude that, though Aunt Hep- 
. zibah would not care if she did not know, it would 
still be a sort of fib. Now he emerged from his rev- 
erie and grew absorbed in the pastor's control of the 
lightning, and in wondering what the effect would 
be if at the critical point the thunder should fail. The 
little girl was earnestly seeking for reassurance about 
the thunderbolts. Some of the older females tiu^ned 
anxiously in their seats, too; for the raging noise 
without was the wildest for years, and it became 
louder and louder, as if advancing directly upon the 
meeting-house. But Hepzibah sat in faith born of a 
clean soul, and in pride that the Spinney faction ~ 
those who upheld the present minister — should ob- 

10 



146 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

serve the son of Alexander brought to the Hard Pine 
Meeting-house. Then came a tremendous flash of 
lightning, accompanying the most solemn thing the 
pastor had said with a simultaneous and deafening 
report of thunder that told for the church a narrow 
escape. There was a creaking without and a great 
gust, which brought the huge branch of a stately elm 
down with a thump against the building. The ser- 
vice was broken in ; for two women had fainted, and 
several others were panic-stricken and wished to flee, 
they knew not whither ; and the three small daugh- 
ters of one of those who had swooned broke into 
tears. There was talking, as the men tried to reas- 
sure the women ; and Elzira Spinney, who was never 
more frightened than Hepzibah Bennett, fastened 
her eyes upon Gerald, and said aloud : 

" The judgment of the Lodd is on the evil — 'n' on 
them of their blood." 

And Deacon Stubb, who sided with Hepzibah, and 
was the coolest man in the church because he could 
not hear thunder, and knew only by the movement 
of the lips what was said, replied reverently : 

" The Lodd chasteneth them he loveth." 

The Boy had sat dazed by the close embrace of the 
little gii'l. The two had stared speechlessly into each 
other's eyes for a wliole minute. Then he recovered, 
remembering the victory at the fishing-pool years 
ago, and said : 

" It 's all right. The Lord won't chasten meJ^ 

"" Sh — ! '^ said Hepzibah, angrily, glancing to see 
if Elzira had noticed. Elzira had. She was as good 
as Hepzibah, so many people thought. 

" But Elziry means you," said the little girl, cling- 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 147 

ing to liim, as another sharp crash came, from appar- 
ently as near as the others. " Youi* father is a hea- 
then. Ain't you seared ? " 

^' Oh, no," said the Boy, audibly above the sobbing 
of the three little girls across the chui'ch. ^^ If Papa 
Zander were here, he 'd jus' make a speech, and I 
guess the lightning would go away. He did it once 
when there was a fire at a theater, and it went out." 

^^But — oh!" cried the little girl, blinded by the 
next flash, which was as brilliant but less severe, — 
" how do you know but what the Lodd's mad because 
you came to meetin ' ? " 

"Well, he could n't hit me without hitting you," 
said the Boy in unconscious criticism of her attitude. 
"Anyway, you 'd get struck by the pieces, and he 
would n't do that.'^ 

" Keep still, can't ye ! " cried Hepzibah, angrily, 
giving him a vigorous shake, and casting sheep's 
eyes around the church. The Boy's face paled. He 
had never been handled in his life. He looked up 
quickly at his aunt with quivering nostrils. The or- 
gan had begun the doxology. The service was being 
cut short on account of the sisters who had fainted. 

Hepzibah hastened from the sanctuary, and they 
drove off at once, under the single cotton umbrella, 
before any one could detain them. 

" Don't ye know 't ye should n't tok out 'n the 
Lodd's house that way ! " exclaimed Hepzibah, as soon 
as they were out of hearing, in the manner she might 
have used to her own child, if she had been a mother. 
" It don't become one of your breedin' t' make free 'n 
the house of Gawd ! " 

" That little girl was afraid," said Gerald, gasping 



148 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

from the pressure of tlieii^ bodies; "and I jus^ told 
her." 

"Don^t make no difiTrunce. Had n't ought to 
opened your mouth. Tokkin' 'bout theaters 'n' sech- 
like, I never 'n all my bo'n days ! What '11 Elziry 
Spinney say ? Ain't you got no trainin' at all ? I sh 
think you was a cannibal ! '' 

" I 'm not a cannibal ! " retorted the Boy, miserably. 
" I don't like you, Aunt Hepzibah — I don't ! I wish 
I had never seen you ! I want to go home.'' 

" Sh' think you would," snuffed Hepzibah, unrelent- 
ingly. ''Ain't comf 'table with the upright-minded, 
be ye ? Want t' git back t' Alexander, 'n' cahd-pla^in', 
theater-goin', 'n' all the sins of creation, don't yef 
Your father 's a gawdless man, 'n' your mother tew, 
'n' it 's my dooty before the Lodd to tell ye so ! " 

" My papa 's the best man in the world ! " cried the 
Boy, flaming with rage ; " and my mama — 0, I hate 
you ! Her little finger 's a million times better than 
you ! I '11 tell her you shook me, and she '11 never let 
you look at me, even if I wanted to. I hate you ! " he 
iterated, struggling with tears, and fighting to be up 
and away from her. 

" Your father " began Hepzibah, slowly and dis- 
tinctly. 

"'LI there now. Hep," said Jasper, with sudden 
firmness, " you got t' stawp, d' ye hear ? " 

" Jahsper Bennett ! " exclaimed Hepzibah, with her 
look. 

" I say 't you got t' stawp right this minute," said 
Jasper, meeting her eyes with astonishing self-asser- 
tion. " I don't want t' hear 'nother word. Aleck 's 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 149 

my brother — he aiu^t youi'n. You ain't got the hull 
world out' yoiu' shoulders, not by a long sight ; 'n' 
you tok too much ! Git up, Pawley ! " 

He took the Boy on his knee and lashed Polly into 
a hurry. The boy kept sniffing and looking ahead of 
him, pale in the face. The sun was peeping through 
the clouds ; the day was on again, and the red- winged 
blackbirds were trilling in the swamps. The dim beds 
of pine spills in the thick grove under the hill looked 
as brown and dry as if it had never rained. It must 
be fresh and sweet down under the willows now, 
thought the Boy, with a wretched gulp at the pros- 
pects for until to-morrow. Dear Mama Violet ! 

At dinner Jasper tried to be entertaining. Hepzi- 
bah was silent. The boy would not look at her ; and 
what Jasper said was interesting to boys of six, per- 
haps, but not to boys of eight. Jasper did n't sug- 
gest a walk, because he thought the grass too wet. 
Hepzibah was considering, and concluding that this 
child must be handled with policy. Elzira Spinney 
had brought people to church that way and converted 
them, pretending at first to tolerate many graceless 
things. Hepzibah had a new idea. 

"You c'u have this old Bible, little boy," she said. 
*' You c'n read it ; 'n' if Violet says anything, you tell 
her I said so. What you don't understand you jest 
come t' me." 

" I think I '11 read it in my room," said the Boy, not 
looking her in the eye, and driven to the first artifice 
of his life. He wanted to be alone and to decide 
whether such unusual circumstances did not warrant 
his quiet departure for the pool, when the elders had 

10* 



150 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

arranged themselves for the afternoon. They would 
n't mind if they did n't know ; and the Lord would n't 
mind if he did know. At least, if he would, he would 
have blasted Cory Judd that very day, down beneath 
the willows ! 

Perhaps he had. Suppose Mr. Judd was lying there 
now mth a great rift from head to toe, such as Gerald 
had seen in tree trunks ? He might be stretched out 
stiff on the mossy bank with the fis'-Une grasped in 
his hand ; and perhaps there was a little fis' tugging 
at the end of the dead man's line. The Boy wondered 
if it was not his duty to go down and see. For 
though their lines had fallen in different waters 
since. Papa Zander and Mr. Judd had once been 
playmates. 

Could he cUmb down the corner-post of the porch 
over the main door ! Of course he had but to step 
out on the roof. The front room down-stairs was 
never used except for weddings and funerals. But 
there was Hepzibah coming up. He sat pretending 
to read the book she had given him. That was right, 
said Hepzibah ; she would see that he was not dis- 
turbed. She went out and closed the door. Then 
she locked it. 

Here was a new and extraordinary aggravation, 
thought the Boy. Of course he could escape to the 
brook by the mndow, but that would still be a sort of 
fib. He drew a great breath — it was a weighty ques- 
tion. If he remained, there was nothing to do but read 
the Bible, which was a matter of doubtful propriety ; 
for though Papa Zander had never said so, it was plain 
enough that both he and Mama Violet considered the 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 151 

book liardly one for young boys. And if you knew 
that, it was no excuse to say that you had n't been 
told in so many words. If he went fis'ing, why, papa 
might not approve of that, and there would be such a 
fuss with Aunt Hepzibah ! Yet, after all the miseries 
of the day, it was simply too much to expect him to 
sit still. Finally he decided on the Bible. 

Hepzibah had inserted a card at that page of Eeve- 
lation which reveals the final destiny of the unbeliev- 
ing and the abominable end of several exceedingly ob- 
jectionable classes of persons. The Boy disregarded 
this verse of the lake of fire, and turned at random 
to another part. He had heard of people who thus 
discovered what to do for their woes. He looked where 
his finger had struck, and read, in the eighth verse 
of the thirty-thii^d chapter of Deuteronomy: 

" And of Levi he said : Let thy Thummim and thy 
Urim be mth thy holy one.'' 

"^Thy Thummim and thy Urim'!" he repeated. 
''I wonder — ? Dear, I wis' Papa Zander was here! 
Now I shall never be happy until I know all about thy 
Thummim and thy Urim ; and may be if I had waited 
for my expurgated edition I should n't have known 
anything about it ! " 

In the midst of this he heard a voice which seemed 
familiar, singing with studied carelessness a quaint 
refrain of which the air of the first two lines was the 
same with that of the last two. The words were : 

Heart-weed and smart-weed, 
They look just the same ; 
And ye could n't tell 'em 'part — 
If it was n't for their names ! 



152 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

or, as Cory Jiidd improved them : 

Ha 't-weed 'n' sma't weed 
'Ey look jest a-same 's 
Ye could n't tell 'em 'pa't 
'F 'twa' n't for th' names ! 

Cory was making a dumb show. The Boy under- 
stood with delight. 

" Letter for ye," he whispered, wdth a wave. " Did n't 
want t' git Hepzy a-vaporin' at me. Kinder mistrusted 
you was Aleck's boy. S' pose I could git this up to ye 
'thout sta'tin' Hepzy?" 

The Boy thought so ; he ran and got the new fish- 
line and let it down from the roof of the porch. 

" Son of Aleck, b' George," said Cory, putting the 
hook through the corner of the envelope. " Come 
last night down t' the station ; Foster give it to me 
this noon.'' 

He wanted to know if Aleck was still getting rich 
and whether Violet was as handsome as ever — which 
the Boy was positive she was. Was the Boy going 
fishing to-morrow? No? There followed explana- 
tions, and a history of the day, told with moderate 
reference to Hepzibah. Well, was the Boy going to 
stay cooped up in the spare room, or did he think of 
sliding down and going fishing, same 's Aleck would 
have ? 

" I don't know," said the Boy, hopelessly. ^' You see, 
it tvould be a sort of fib, and if she asked me, I 'd have 
to tell, and then — ! " 

" Ay, yuss," allowed Cory, but with some show of 
disappointment. " Still, I dunno 's that would have 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 153 

hindered Aleck in his day, leastwise — but it hain't fur 
me t' meddle. By ! I 'm goin' down along. Did n't 
have no tho't of fishin' this mo'nin', jest said so t 
please Hepzy." 

He saw Cory brushing through the moist field, safe 
from the range of Hepzibah's windows. The quick 
kingbirds were darting at the grasshoppers ; a cool, 
fresh breeze was nodding the daisies, and the butter- 
flies fluttered in the sim. But there was nothing but 
the Bible for a virtuous little boy. ^' ^ Thy Thummim 
and thy Urim ' ! " he repeated, with an access of woe. 
Hot tears filled his eyes, and his fists contracted, — 
until he remembered the letter. 

It was from Papa Zander ! It had been jotted on 
the train, and that was what made papa's hand look 
so foreign. Really, except Mama Violet, there was 
nothing in the world Like Papa Zander ! 

A song-sparrow sang charmingly afield. The Boy 
sat by the window with his elbows on the table. The 
red bow was where it had worked askew when he had 
tried to escape from Hepzibah ; and his hair was 
tumbled with his search for the meaning of Thum- 
mim and Urim — a search still vain among theologi- 
ans. But he was feeling better. As he read, his face 
grew brighter and brighter, and he smiled to himself. 
He was too excited to notice that Hepzibah had come 
and quietly unlocked the door and silently gone away. 
Finally he laughed aloud. 

He jumped up and pocketed the fish-line and the 
big field-knife that belonged to Alexander. Then he 
stepped out on the roof of the porch. AU was clear. 
If it was n't clear, no matter. ^ Mr. Judd had disap- 



154 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

peared, but there was the happy, winding path. The 
Boy slid Avith stout little limbs down the post and 
walked in a straight line towards where the path cut 
the birches and undergrowth. If Hepzibah looked up 
at the right moment she would surely see him ; but if 
you think you are right you don't have to dodge. 
The letter lay open on the table . 

Alexander M. Bennett, 
Attorney-at-Law. 

MEMORANDUM. 

On the train. 
Dear little Thumpty-bump : 

Papa neglected to warn you that your aunt and uncle hold dif- 
ferent views from yours, especially about Sunday. But all people 
are to be respected for what they sincerely believe. If you went 
fishing on Sunday, Aunt Hepzibah would say you were a bad lit- 
tle boy ; and though you are always a good boy, it would not be 
poli to argue with her. But it is not a case where because you 
are a child you are obliged to subscribe to beliefs you may 
reject when you are older. I do not know what you think 
about fishing on Sunday, but so far as you are responsible for 
what you do, it is on account of what you know and believe. 
Be sure you are right and then go ahead — if you think it right 
to go ahead. If Aunt Hepzibah asks questions, answer them 
with your usual frankness, but so as not to wound the lady who 
is entertaining you so kindly. 

You will find two dear little orchids in the swamp back of the 
pool. They are arethusa and calopogon ; but they might have 
been anaesthesia and paregoric for all I knew until I was three 
times your age. One of them smells as dainty-sweet as a fairy's 
smelling-bottle. There are apt to be wood-warblers, too, peck- 
ing at the trunks and leaves of the willows — they like the older 
ones with the bright yellow lichens. Make yourself akin with 
nature, my boy, and you will never be far from whatsoever God 
may mean. 



A LITTLE LIBERAL 155 

If you see Mr. Cory Judd — you won't find Mm at meeting — 
tell him papa has not forgotten the little red school-house ^nd 
the earthquake. 
Surely be on time to take care of Mama Violet. 
Your very affectionate 

Papa. 

P. S. I used to think they bit better on Sundays. They 
did n't suspect. Papa. 

N. B. I used to hang mine in the hollow of a tree until 
Monday. Papa. 

" Maybe Mr. Judd knows about thy Thiimmim and 
thy Urim ! " thought the Boy, skipping gaily through 
the fragrant shrubbery. 

Ill 

The Monday morning train rolled up to the little 
Coosac flag-station, with Mama Violet expectant at the 
open window of the parlor car. 

" There she is ! There she is, Mr. Judd ! " said the 
Boy, breaking away from the gi-asp of Hepzibah, who 
had no belief in steam-cars. " Hello, mama ! Hello, 
mama ! Is n't she lovely, Mr. Judd 1 Good-by, Aunt 
Hepzibah. Good-by, Uncle Jasper! Good-by, Mr. 
Judd ! Hope we '11 meet again, Mr. Judd, — when you 
come to Boston." 

The Boy dashed up the steps of the car and ran in 
to find Mama Violet. He encircled her neck with 
both arms, and nearly smothered her with kisses. 

^' He 's a pretty sma^t boy,'' allowed Hepzibah from 
the platform. " Got up this mo'nin' 'for' we was up, 
'n' cot three suckers 'n' three them little trout down t' 
the brook." 



156 A LITTLE LIBERAL 

At this statement Mr. Cory Jndd slapped his knee 
and went into an ahnost dangerons fit of laughter. 

" No I did n't," called the Boy, as the train moved 
quickly out. '' I shinned down and caught them yes- 
terday, and, Aunt Hepzibah, — liept them in a tree ! " 

But Hepzibah was saying at the same time as loud 
as she could : 

" I took him to meetin', 'n' I give him a Bible, Vio- 
let, 'n' I set him ont' the path of grace. T you don't 
see t' the rest of his salvation, tliat he on your soul!^^ 

Sweet Violet, with her son's hand tight in hers, 
looked back on the lady of the Hard Pine Meeting- 
house and smiled. The Boy wiiggled up close to her 
and put his arm around her waist. 

'^ O don't let 's ever part again, mama ! She shook 
me and made me read the Bible because I told the lit- 
tle girl the Hghtning would n't kill her. And I went 
fis'ing — it ivas a kind of fib ; but I told Aunt Hepzi- 
bah jus' now. But the pool was the loveliest place ! 
And warblers and annethusias, and Mr. Judd ! He 's 
the funniest Mr. Judd you ever saw, but he did n't 
know, — mama, what is thy Thummim and thy Urim ? 
Mama, did you get my book : ' How^ Monkeys Speak ? ' 
O, mama, darling, don't let us ever part again so long 
as we live ! " 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 




THE TRAOEDY OF THE COMEDY 



HEY crisped the snow of Boston 
Common dressed in handsome fab- 
rics, carrying themselves as some 
princesses do and as every princess 
should. Their waists, within the 
easy embrace of their bodices, were 
free and supple, as God planned. The winter air bit 
their cheeks. 

Charlotte was strongly boned. Her face was fuU 
and her mouth was large and firm, its smile endowed 
with liberal range of meaning. Her eyes were of the 
North — blue and quiet. Jessica was an inch taller, 
a woman with fine frame and slender hands. Her feet 
were small, but capable of much ground. Her eyes 
were like the Italian sky. Her face was pale, with the 
pure, high, narrow brow that sculptors choose. Both 
girls had chestnut-glossy hair, and both were twenty- 
eight years old. One would have thought them 
twenty-four. 

They had been walking steadily for foui' hours. It 
was visible that Charlotte and Jessica were different 
from other girls. They were as well groomed as 
women of fashion. Their faces had the dignity and 
cast of thought of the fostered intellect, but not the 
postgraduate air of abstraction ; nor did the girls bear 
the trivial weights of the mode. 

159 



160 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

Charlotte pressed with her elbow a book, thinking 
of the story in its pages, written by her friend Mr. 
Bond. She conld not help marveling at his genius. 

Jessica, seeing into her friend's mind, noticed with 
a twinge how the volume was affectionately handled 
by Charlotte. Jessica was silent until the pressure 
became too great. Then she began ; 

" You did n't believe, a year ago, that to-day his 
name would stand so high." 

" No," said Charlotte, accustomed to these interpre- 
tations. " At least I did n't believe he would achieve 
this. I confess I thought he might succeed in some- 
thing ingenious, or perhaps humorous, or fantastic; 
but not that he was equal to this sort of thing. I don't 
think we ever overestimated him," she added. 

" After all, though," said Jessica, " a single fairish 
novel does not confer immortality. Heaven knows 
that some of the stuff printed might have been writ- 
ten by you or me." 

" I said that to Mr. Bond once, and he asked me if 
I had ever entered into any competition for money." 

" Imphdng that you were a babbling infant. That 
was quite like him," said Jessica, with a short laugh. 

" He was right. I don't know why you should for- 
ever disparage him — after all this time," said Char- 
lotte, with dignity. 

^^I have no pedestal for Mr. Bond," said Jessica. 
" I don't think I ever pretended otherwise." 

'^ Not to him, sm*ely — or me ! " 

" Oh, I suppose you '11 marry him in the end," said 
Jessica, bitterly. 

Charlotte would not answer. A flush came over 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 161 

Jessica's face. They walked on, looking far ahead, 
until they entered the Public Garden. There Jessica 
stopped abruptly and whirled around. 

"You know you love him — and are sorry!" she 
said passionately. 

Charlotte slowly raised her eyes to Jessica. 

"If ever I do — I will tell you before I tell him, 
dear," she said. 

" And that will part us forever. You know it," said 
Jessica, wretchedly. " You know I never cared for 
any one in the world but you. But you have forgotten 
all you once felt." 

"You have charged me with that so often," said 
Charlotte, deprecatingly, "and you know it is not 
true. Why should we reopen that miserable, impossi- 
ble subject!" 

" And we used to agree that we should so like the 
same man that it would be an outrage on the other 
for either of us to marry him," continued Jessica, in 
a tone that implied absolute foreknowledge of an 
event. 

" If you refer by chance to Mr. Bond, you know 
you could have liked him if you had wished to." 

"Yes; you still think I am jealous of him — or of 
you," said Jessica. 

"How absurd! I cannot forget, though, that you 
spoke of him with more enthusiasm than I did, at 
first." 

" That was because I did not want to marry him." 

" Jessica, you are childish. I did not want to marry 

him." 

" No ; but you are going to.'^ 
11 



162 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

Charlotte said nothing. They were at their own 
door. They parted to dress for the evening. 

These girls had met at college. Their strange hy- 
persensitiveness and its concurrent melancholy had 
immediately joined them together. Their friendship 
grew to one of those affairs not infrequent in wo- 
men's colleges. It was not the ordinary intimacy be- 
tween girls ; it was peculiar and binding. It formed 
a creed around itself — one which came to regulate 
almost every action of their lives. They rose together, 
ate together, studied together, and walked together. 
To Jessica, Charlotte was a Juno, fearless and born 
to rule. To Charlotte, Jessica was a flower of sur- 
passing gentleness, made to be cherished and directed. 
Their tastes were identical, and their capabilities were 
the wonder of those years with their alma mater. 
They did not affect a special trend, but sipped of 
every stream which pleased their fancy and widened 
their touch with realms of science and pure imaginiv 
tion. They entered little into the social circles of stu- 
dent life, passing their time rather in voracious read- 
ings, both of books and nature. They knew every 
flower and bit of stone and creeping or flying thing the 
country round. Both were independent in money, 
though no bait for fortune-seekers, and both delved 
well below the surface of all that excited their inter- 
est, purely for the satisfaction that is dilettante. 

As each year tightened their friendship they saw 
less and less of other girls, and cared less for the so- 
ciety of men. They contrived reasons for not going 
home during the recess, in order that they might spend 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 163 

the time more closely together. Wlien their relatives 
rebelled, the gii'ls parted iu gloom, and wrote letters 
regularly every day until they came back early to the 
college walls. 

The most serious incident in their college career, 
except the friendship itself, followed upon the sug- 
gestion of the lady professor of French to the lady 
principal, that the two girls were taking too morbid 
an interest in each other, and should be kept more 
apart, for the good of their minds and the moral 
benefits of occasional sohtude. Charlotte and Jessica 
packed their belongings and wrote long letters home, 
which resulted in the lady principal's relenting, while 
the lady professor of French shrugged her shoulders. 
The girls altered their course from French to Spanish. 

When they left college Charlotte immediately came 
to Boston to live with Jessica and Jessica's father 
and brothers. Jessica had been motherless for sev- 
eral years, and Charlotte had lost both her parents 
during her course at college. In Boston their life 
went on again in much the same channels, only at 
first more delightfully than ever ; for the girls were 
free to go wherever they pleased. They saw, heard, 
and read everything that was well played or sung or 
written ; and the brilliant cynicism which grew grad- 
ually out of their view and mode of life afforded 
them now a regular pleasure in averting the atten- 
tions of successive men, some of them mediocre and 
fatuous, a few superior to the girls, but all with traits 
that made them interesting for the time, and all sub- 
jected to the cold, critical spirit not rare in clever 
modern women who have never allowed themselves 



164 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

in competition or in true fellowship with the sturdier 

sex. 

Majiy men passed in review through their drawing- 
rooms for the amusement of the girls, but few made 
more than half a dozen visits. This was apt to be 
the extent of their true welcome, and generally suf- 
ficed to convey a subtle impression on the men quite 
suited to the circumstance. Humor of a high quality, 
and much wit and flippancy, the girls received with 
applause ; but it was painful to fall below then* stan- 
dard, and those who talked of serious matters were 
chnied by the lack of enthusiasm of the girls, which 
seemed to express a complete disapproval of mascu- 
line ideals. Those who survived these conditions 
were either entertaining creatures unconscious of 
themselves, or else men who fancied themselves in 
love with one of the gii'ls, in the fashion of male 
creatures for so long as there have been scintillant 
beings in the world about whom a man may build a 
domestic halo in his imagination. These latter men 
were the greatest sport of all, unless Jessica, to whom 
they did not often attach themselves, began to draw 
a fear from Charlotte's really gentler manner that 
Charlotte's heart was in absurd danger of being 
touched. Jessica then disposed of the enemy in a 
way that was at once humane and expeditious in the 
hands of the lady of the house ; and Charlotte made 
no sound, though she would have been interested in 
a more extended observation of the inferior animal 
when it lost its sentimental balance. The two often 
laughed together over subsequent wedding-cards en- 
graven with the names of the departed and of sweet 
young things. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 165 

But there came Mr. Bond, wlio was a minor officer 
in the city government. The girls took him as the 
greatest curiosity, and Jessica viewed him as wholly 
harmless because he had scanty means, and no future 
except in his aspii*ations to a literary career. He 
explained this to them, and they received it kindly, 
because it seemed pathetic that one with so narrow an 
education compared to theirs, a man who told them 
in the triumph of discovery many a thing they had 
read in the ancient philosophers, should be possessed 
of his hopes. But Bond had two qualifications which 
they overlooked, perhaps without blame. He was 
constantly making the most astounding acquain- 
tances with his own shortcomings, which he confided 
to them as if he had been an insect under his own 
microscope ; and he was constantly drawing a larger 
interest on this knowledge of himself — all this with 
a persistence in the face of certain odds that would 
have inspired the girls if they had not been so nearly 
content with their spiritual condition. One might 
have inferred from them that he was illiterate; but 
he was far from that : his obstacles were great only 
when measured from the goal he had set for himself, 
and when it was understood how little leisure he had. 
But the girls looked to him mainly for amusement, 
and for an agreeable outlet for easy-going charity, 
rather than for the inspiriting current of sympathy 
that may flow between the sexes. He was always 
diving into some unexpected corner and producing 
some extraordinary character in the flesh, or some 
outlandish inanimate thing that was new to them, 
and hence highly exciting. And with all his youthful 

ardor, as they said it, he had a certain dignity, such 
11* 



166 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

that they could not feel toward him as they did to- 
ward any other man. 

They did not both perceive, as they knew him bet- 
ter, that while he seemed to look to them for instruc- 
tion in his spiritual growth, referring continually to 
their opinions, he constantly made progress in a di- 
rection of which he was sole arbiter. In time Char- 
lotte felt it ; but Jessica forever ignored that he had 
views that were to be taken seriously, or were in 
touch mth the times. 

They had begun to honor him witli invitations to 
show them curious corners in Boston, when Jessica, 
much against her choice, was constrained to go abroad 
with her father, in tardy response to his request made 
before she went to college. And it happened that 
property complications and a lawsidt of importance 
required Charlotte's presence at a town on the Maine 
coast, where her people had made their all in the rise 
of summer-resort real estate. When Jessica was half- 
way across the Atlantic, and heavy -with the journal of 
three days' longings for Charlotte, Mr. Bond was taking 
Charlotte for walks on the cliff at Seaweed Cove. 

It was during this miserable period of cathedrals 
and homesickness for Charlotte that Jessica began to 
dream how Mr. Bond might })ecome a dangerous pos- 
sibility. Charlotte, she considered, was, after all, en- 
tirely too susceptible to men, and would, if left to 
herself, be apt to take them to heart. Besides, Char- 
lotte was excessively charming to contemplate — she 
could do anything in the world, from making a Greek 
verse to making a creamed lobster; and Charlotte 
was not alert to know that what men said to her was 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 167 

always with au ulterior purpose — that of putting the 
girl iu weddiug-harness, with all that sort of humble 
reaUty so reverse from the silly di-eams of young 
creatures who have not learned that the best philoso- 
phy confers a higher title on friendship than it does 
on love. '' dingers " was Jessica's favorite designa- 
tion for girls who confessed to a certain moral sup- 
port exerted by men. Jessica herself was of the 
" dinger " order, but in a perverted and most exag- 
gerated form, and this was the secret of her adhesion 
to Charlotte. As much as she admired Charlotte's 
self-reliance, she feared it because it was always dan- 
gerously near an independence quite opposed to the 
theory of their bonded lives. 

Meanwhile, mth cliffs and sea, and conversation 
over the field of human aspirations, Charlotte came 
into a new and delightf nl world that fascinated her 
and appealed to her most healthy sentiments. She 
enjoyed herself in a fashion which Jessica would have 
trembled to see, and did weep over when it was de- 
scribed in Charlotte's letters with many appreciative 
items concerning Mr. Bond. Charlotte spent hours 
and hours in the sunlight, sitting silent while Bond 
descanted on various subjects, arriving in the end, 
with unerring aim, at a chosen center. If they began 
to talk of fish in the sea, he made some remark about 
the jewfish, then about the patriarchal system of Jew- 
ish life, then about family life in general, then about 
the married life of young people. If they spoke of 
rocks, he would draw her out concerning mineralogy 
and crystals and jewels, and would tell her of a re- 
markable wedding-ring he had seen, and recount an 



168 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

anecdote of its wearer, from wliicli he would draw 
deductions of an abstract nature. If they started on 
sand and seaweed, he straightway wondered under what 
circumstances the x>oet happened on the simile of the 
sands of time and the footprints thereon j then talked 
about poets, and Longfellow in particular, and Long- 
fellow's ideal married life. Then he talked of his own 
future and apologized unceasingly for his failings in 
the deeper sort of culture, which seemed to her to lie 
in the direction of material, rather than in the lack of 
imagination or feeling. He spoke of a little book on 
wliich he was secretly at work — to be publislied by and 
by at his own expense : and she half gave her approval 
to its plan, though it did not seem quite in keeping 
with all the rest she thought of him. Then he an- 
nounced to her that he was going abroad in another 
week as agent for a new steam-valve, and might not 
return too soon, unless she desired it for her special 
benefit. This was at the end of two months, and after 
three days' trepidation, in thought of what Jessica 
would say to all this, Charlotte finally gave way, and 
they confided in her aunt. 

The aunt smiled, and reserved her opinion for a 
better acquaintance with the gentleman — which she 
never obtained, since the young people were always 
out of reach; until at length Mr. Bond went away, 
leaving Charlotte blue and happy, then blue and wish- 
ing for Jessica's return, then blue and doubtful. And 
Mr. Bond and Jessica passed on the ocean, Jessica 
with a cablegram in her pocket-book, and sunken to 
the depths of melancholy that her Charlotte should 
stoop to matrimony at all, not to speak of the abomi- 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 169 

liable choice of a wretched steam-valve novelist whose 
culture could be stowed away comfortably in the mi- 
nutest corner of Charlotte's brain j a man, thought 
Jessica, who would shine, if he ever did, solely by re- 
flected light, and in miserable lesser ways that would 
be forever a shame and humiliation. 

So Jessica made up her mind that the engagement 
should be declared off as soon as she could reach 
Charlotte, which would be on the pier at New York. 
The two went to their hotel and wept together for a 
number of hours, and Jessica assumed a superior atti- 
tude that was altogether fresh to her, first searching 
Charlotte's soul, and then engaging in an analysis of 
Mr. Bond that left him like a dried thing in a mu- 
seum. Charlotte pleaded for him with no avail, for 
Jessica showed that he was neither an ardent student, 
nor an athlete, nor a linguist, nor a man of affairs — 
all of which symbolic utterances she amplified until 
they comprised every attribute which may possibly 
give a male creature the right of existence under any 
code of moral law. Moreover, she intimated that Mr. 
Bond would find Charlotte's money a welcome substi- 
tute for the traveling steam- valve, which was the 
only part of the inquisition where Charlotte fright- 
ened her friend with flashing of the eyes. Then Jes- 
sica attacked the institution of marriage on general 
grounds, and quoted so many of Charlotte's own 
cavils at it that Charlotte finally felt obhged to ac- 
knowledge her foolishness, and to write a note to Mr. 
Bond explaining what a grievous mistake she had 
made; that she did not love him, and could never 
marry him. 



170 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

This was Bond's first serious experience in being 
misprized, and he careened so badly under the burden 
that he seemed quite to fit Jessica's estimate of him, 
and confirmed forever the abstractions concerning 
men made by Jessica out of her innocence of them. 
Mr. Bond wrote back that he regretted Charlotte had 
taken him for some other man. He filled four pages 
with shivering sarcasm that made Charlotte think 
Jessica much wiser than had been suspected by her 
most irresponsil)le admirers. For a year the matter 
seemed a closed incident. 

During that year Mr. Bond continued his researches 
within himself, and finally came, in the light of a soul 
that grew constantly, to be heartily ashamed of his 
last communication to the woman he had loved and 
still loved. To arrive at such a state meant for him 
straightway to write another letter, proudly explain- 
ing his new understanding of his unAVorthiness, and 
telling of all the mental anguish he had undergone 
since they parted, and how completely he compre- 
hended what his attitude must have stood for in her 
eyes. And Charlotte, moved, as she thought, by her 
conscience, replied that they both had much to regret, 
she especially in having allowed him to form such an 
impression of her regard for him, which had been, 
and would always be, simply that of a friend who 
admired his honesty and many other traits of his 
character. It turned out soon afterward that the 
steam-valve brought him back to Boston, and he 
called on Charlotte, and they took up the same 
fnendly intercourse that had been the rule before he 
had ever touched on the subject of marriage. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 171 

This reconciliation was bitterly opposed by Jessica, 
and never gave her a moment's peace. But Charlotte 
stood like a rock, and went so far as to insist that 
Jessica should not forget the courtesy of a gentlewo- 
man when Mr. Bond came in of an evening ; to which 
Jessica yielded, though she came very near dangerous 
ground on more than one occasion. Mr. Bond in- 
formed Charlotte that he knew that he had forfeited 
much of her respect by his letter at the breaking of 
their engagement, l^ut that he should not rest until 
he had regained what he had lost, and shown her that 
he was right when he said he could make her happy, 
which was a tremendous undertaking for any man in 
any circumstances, and stood for an optimism on his 
part that was an argument in itself. 

So another year passed, during which the once 
ideal life of the two girls seemed to have permanently 
altered in a most distressing manner. They devel- 
oped. They bickered over many things, all of which 
had root in Jessica's specter of Mr. Bond in eventual 
triumph ; and as often as they bickered they wept 
and mutually asked forgiveness, though Charlotte 
would rarely accede to Jessica's demands for limita- 
tions on Mr. Bond's occurrence at the house. Mr. 
Bond had now become literary editor of a Boston 
daily, and smiled good-naturedly at his own small 
knowledge of the classics, ancient or modern, when 
he compared it to that of the girls. He even took the 
humor of Jessica's occasional causticity born of read- 
ing his reviews as the only side of her remarks worth 
appearing to notice ; and meanwhile the paper in- 
creased his salary and gave him more space in the 



172 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

Sunday edition, and other newspaper men looked up- 
on him as a leader in his line. There grew a limit 
to which Charlotte would Hsten to Jessica's sarcasms, 
and henceforth Jessica never rose without bracing 
herself for the announcement of an engagement j for 
Charlotte became more silent every day. 

The truth was that though Charlotte had said at 
first it would be useless to look forward to any change 
in her heart, her subsequent reception of his subtly 
caressing tones had been such as to warrant a differ- 
ent behef. However, he resolved never to speak un- 
less she showed conclusivelv that she wished him to. 
And Charlotte, between the opposition of Jessica and 
the expansion of her own womanly yearnings, came 
into that region of feminine doubt which lets things 
take care of themselves. For Charlotte was growing, 
while Jessica stood still. And it finally happened 
that on the eve of another of his departures from 
Boston, Mr. Bond, finding his way by chance unan- 
nounced into their drawing-room, came upon Char- 
lotte standing at the mantelpiece, contemplating a 
mask of Mirth. 

Charlotte did not care anything for a mask of 
Mii-th ; for her eyes were full of tears ; and she could 
not conceal them from him when she turned around. 
But, unhappily, neither could she explain them ; and 
when he made a wdse suggestion, she averred that she 
could not truthfully say she loved him, and urged that 
mucli the best way was for them to part indefinitely. 
He then had his opportunity to cover the memory of 
his first rejection ^\dth a manly speech. He said gently 
that he should love her always, and that he would 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 173 

wait patiently until she was ready, no matter how long 
it took. And he went off in a driving rain, leaving 
her in tears, as he had found her. 

Jessica's imagination and artfulness extracted this 
much from mournful Charlotte the next day. Jes- 
sica then showed conclusively, on the highest moral 
grounds, that it was a grievous wrong to Mr. Bond 
for Charlotte to let him suppose she felt what she 
could not own to her dearest friend. And Charlotte, out 
of her affection for Mr. Bond, wrote to him that she 
was now sure that she would never marry him, though 
she omitted to sav that she was sure that she did not 
love him. Mr. Bond did not write for a correction of 
this omission, for fear that, with the exaggerated no- 
tion of the truth which takes possession of fretful 
maids, she would supply it. 

On the contrary, he wrote that he felt that Char- 
lotte w^ould in the end arrive at the point he desired ; 
that he was aware of the antagonism of Miss Jessica, 
but that, after all, a regard weaker than objections 
external, and perhaps not wholly unselfish, would not 
justify any woman in entering matrimony ; and that 
he was content to wait until Charlotte understood 
this. He said that Charlotte seemed constructed to 
prove that the first institution of our civilization could 
be a success for one who possessed her qualities ; and 
he thereby came dangerously near complimenting 
himseK, since he implied himself capable of supplying 
the other element for the triumph of his theory. He 
tried to state gently that Charlotte was spending the 
best years of her life in aimlessness, and that her con- 
stitutional tendency to melancholy would increase as 



174 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

long as she refused to work out normally a scheme 
of existence planned more for her benefit than for 
that of anybody else in the world. He said that he 
loved her, and expected her to discover that she loved 
him, and that he should wait until she acknowledged it. 

It was two years later when the girls were dining 
in their new house after Jessica's outburst in the Pub- 
lic Garden. Jessica sulked. They were going to see 
two comedies, one of which, in one act, had been writ- 
ten by Mr. Bond, and was now to be produced for the 
fii^st time in Boston, after a run in New York which 
was announced as a success. When it was time for 
the theater Jessica refused to go, despite the prayers of 
Charlotte. So Charlotte left Jessica at home, and 
went off with Jessica's brother. 

As they sat waiting for the rise of the curtain, she 
saw Mr. Bond enter one of the boxes, accompanied 
by some ladies. He had changed considerably, per- 
haps for the better, she thought. He looked as old as 
he was, and certainly could not convey that impres- 
sion of youthfulness which went with his earlier days. 
Charlotte watched him intently — the man who had 
won her imagination to the onlv earthlv career she 
could now contemplate with a hope of happiness. 
His manner seemed to have become graver. There 
were a few streaks of premature gray in his hair. 

Bond's comedy was the stor}^ of a girl who had sent 
away the man who loved her. Now she regretted it, 
but to no purpose, since from the occasional conven- 
tional letters which passed between them she believed 
that his heart had fallen into possession of another. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 175 

Soon the lover returned. There was a long scene in 
which she was caused to shadow forth her sorrow at 
his change of sentiment, ending with the announce- 
ment on his part that the other woman in the case 
was only a myth, and had been invented by him so 
that the girl might place a true value on what she 
thought she had lost. The letters were read over, 
and the description of the girl who did not exist was 
found to be that of the girl who did exist, and who 
now fell into the arms of the hero. This, after some 
httle feminine difficulties were overcome, enabled the 
curtain to fall on hearts united. 

As Mr. Bond left the box and passed along with the 
two ladies, Charlotte noticed that one of them was 
3^oung and looked very clever and happy. She was 
evidently the daughter of the other lady. Bond 
caught sight of Charlotte, and hastened over to speak 
to her. 

" What do you think of the girl in the play ? " he 
asked, after the customary exchange. 

^' The girl gets more than she deserves," said Char- 
lotte, brightly. 

'' In the play she does," said Bond. 

'' Shall you stay long in Boston ! " asked Charlotte. 
She did not know what she might say next. 

^'No; I leave to-night — now that the little play 
seems to catch favor. Grood-by." 

He was gone. 

"Bond is getting to be a notable," said Jessica's 
brother. "That was a fine-looking girl he had with 
him." 

For Charlotte the second play dragged wofully. 



176 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

The atmosphere seemed too heavy to breathe. She 
longed to be alone in the open air. 

During these moments Jessica, at home, very un- 
happy, and ravishiugly handsome in her evening gown, 
was making furious game of the admiring Chauncey 
Barber, the young medical student and religious enthu- 
siast whose courage was apparent only by fits and starts. 
In the course of the evening he chanced to remark : 

" That 's a beauty Franklin Bond is going to marry, 
don't you think?" 

" Who ? " asked Jessica, excitedly. 

Barber took revenge for her raillery by refusing to 
tell. 

Later, when the girls were alone, they were both 
unusually gay. Charlotte soon pleaded fatigue, and 
retired to her room. Jessica went to sleep determined 
to find out at the earliest opportunity if Mr. Bond was 
betrothed. 

When Charlotte awoke in the morning she was ill. 
As the day wore on she grew worse. Evening found 
the doctor at her bedside. The illness developed into 
tvphoid fever. For weeks Jessica scarcelv left Char- 
lotte's chamber. She slept at Charlotte's side on a 
mattress on the floor, nursing her day and night. It 
was a great strain on the nerves of the more delicate 
girl ; all the more from a fearful anxiety for Charlotte's 
life, which sometimes kept Jessica awake far toward 
the dawn, when she lay exhausted after a day of high- 
est tension. In those hours Jessica went back over 
the history of their lives together, and blamed herself 
for many a childish jealousy over Charlotte, and for 
many a cutting speech born of unreasoning hatred of 



THE TKAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 177 

those occasional third persons who took Charlotte's 
fancy. Now Charlotte would forget Mr. Bond, if 
what Barber said was true. And the lives of the two 
girls, if death would only spare Charlotte, would go 
on, with Jessica chastened in spirit, and risen to a 
new dignity, through the loveliness of Charlotte's ex- 
ample. They would grow old together ; and if Char- 
lotte wished the society of men at times, — Jessica 
thought that a little of it would suffice, — why, Char- 
lotte should be given it. 

The patient became convalescent. The case had 
been less severe than Jessica's fears. Charlotte was 
able to join with the prayers of the family, and the 
admonitions of the doctor, in forcing Jessica into the 
open air. At last Jessica consented to take both ex- 
ercise and sleep, and while she was absent Charlotte 
lay musing hour after hour over the girl in the play. 
It occurred to Jessica to ask the doctor about the 
rumor of Bond's engagement; the doctor would 
know. She met the medical man coming from his 
final visit to Charlotte. Mr. Bond's engagement to 
Miss Catherwood was a fact which would soon be 
attested by names engraved. The wedding was to 
take place in Boston. 

Jessica breathed a long sigh of content, and ran 
up-stairs. 

The room was dim in twilight. Charlotte lay mo- 
tionless, with her hands clasped under her head. She 
had been long in meditation. There was a settled look 
upon her face. The heart-crisis was past. 

" Jessie dear," she said immediately, " I have some- 
thing to tell you. I — care for — Mr. Bond." 

12 



178 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

Jessica's heart stopped. She must not speak now — 
no, not until Charlotte was strong. 

"You are not going to be angiy, Jessie?" asked 
Charlotte. 

" Oh, no, darling," said Jessica, with a great lump 
in her throat. She threw her arms around her friend. 
"You will always need me — no matter what hap- 
pens ! " 

" I told you," said Charlotte, pressing her face against 
Jessica's, " because I am so happy ; and I want to tell 
some one.'' 

" But, my darling," said Jessica, who dared not sob, 
" you must think only of getting well now. You are 
not to excite youi'self ." 

"I do not, dearie — I am too happy. It has been 
so long ! I want to be well enough to send for him 
and ask his pardon. How long will it be?" 

" Some time vet, dear. You must think of other 
things now." 

" Think of other things ? " said Charlotte, smiling. 
" You dear, funny girl ! " 

That evening Jessica read to Charlotte, who listened 
apparently with close attention ; but her thoughts 
were far away. She was glad to be left alone in the 
dark when Jessica retired to a night of tears. Char- 
lotte slept and dreamed. 

The next day, as Jessica entered the Library, she 
met Bond. 

"Good morning," he said pleasantly, as was his 
w^ont to Jessica, notwithstanding her attitude toward 
him. " Charlotte is ill." 

" How did you know ! " asked Jessica. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 179 

^' Because 3^011 are alone, if uotliing else. I saw tlie 
doctor this morning. He gave me your new address, 
and I sent my wedding-cards to you and Charlotte. 
Will you step into the florist's ? A bunch of violets 
would look well against that black fur." 

She went with him, and this was surprising, for she 
generally, in his memory of her, took special delight 
in refusing the smallest courtesy he offered. When 
he suggested now a huge bunch of violets she declined 
them. He bowed gravely, and proceeded to assort 
some roses. Suddenly he said, holding them up : 

" I started to pick these out for Miss Catherwood ; 
she likes Banksias, too. But I am going to send them 
to Charlotte." 

" Please don't ! " faltered Jessica. 

He smiled curiously to himself, and wrote down 
Charlotte's name and address. When he had added 
his card to the flowers, Jessica went with him to the 
street. As they came out she stopped him, and facing 
him with a pleading such as he never imagined could 
come to her eyes, she said : 

"Won't you iplease, please, not send those flowers to 
Charlotte ? " 

He looked at her in amazement. 

" Let us cross to the Common," he said. 

When they were less in the crowd, he turned to her 
and said, with wonder, and yet in an indulgent way : 

" You are a most extraordinary woman ! " 

" I will be any kind you wish — if you will only do 
as I ask," she said almost tearfully. 

He marveled to see Jessica humbled to make a 
prayer to him. It was ridiculous^ 



180 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

" You forget," lie said gravely, '^ that I tliiuk a great 
deal of Charlotte." 

" You — think a great deal of her ! " said Jessica, 
impetuously. '^ Oh, you are no better than all the 
other clay of your kind ! Your sentiments will not 
stand the wear of two short years. You said you 
could never love any one but Charlotte — that you 
would wait for her as long as you lived, that she could 
summon you in ten years and still find you true. And 
here you send her your wedding-cards, engraved with 
another woman's name ! What fools women are ! " 

*^It is true that I said all those things," he an- 
swered without emotion, " except the last. And many 
other things which I presume Charlotte held no more 
sacredly than to tell you — who have so often declared 
me an impossible person. The answer to your impli- 
cation that I am a staler of oaths lies in the material 
you use for your aiTaignment of me." 

" What Charlotte has said to me was in defense of 
you." 

'' Silence was all the defense I needed," he said, 
looking into the distance. 

" That is all you have received for two years," said 
Jessica, mendaciouslv. 

'^ Then — what more to say? Charlotte is happy, 
you are happy, I am happy — ah, but that is not all 
true ! " he said sorrowfully. " Charlotte and you are 
not happy. You have built a wall around yourselves 
— you have shut yourselves away from sympathy with 
men, and you are out of the march of life." 

" All because neither Charlotte nor I wished her to 
marry you ! " laughed Jessica. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 181 

Charlotte gained strength rapidly. Slie had not 
lost her hair. This was a soui-ce of happiness. She 
remembered how Bond had often admired it. She 
amused herseK with fondling its full length and think- 
ing of him. Then she blushed in the quiet of her 
room. Each day brought the spring nearer. Jessica 
came in every morning laden with flowers, and prom- 
ising the earliest Avild blossoms when they should ap- 
pear. The twenty-eight white roses Jessica had taken 
from the box when they came, and they stood on 
Charlotte's table for three days, apparently as a token 
of Jessica's affection. Her real tribute was the fact 
that Bond's card lay in Jessica's room, part of the 
ashes in the grate. Jessica would not leave the house 
until the flowers had safely reached her own hands ; 
and until the wedding-cards, too, had come, and were 
stowed away in her secret drawer. Bond was to be 
married at noon on the third of May. 

By that morning Charlotte had risen and dressed 
regularly for a week. The weather had been cold and 
wet, and it was not thought advisable for her to go 
out. But now the day opened bright and warm. It 
brought memories of past delightful springtimes and 
promises of summer that sent her mind back to Sea- 
weed Cove, and to the blue waters over which she had 
gazed so many hours in silence. Soon she and Jessica 
would ride out together, and before long Charlotte 
could consider herself well-nigh restored. For a week 
Jessica had gone about weighed to earth with the 
news she felt long overdue to Charlotte. Often it 
trembled on her lips to speak; but the effort stifled 
it. When the two were together Jessica's mind was 

12* 



182 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

distracted in debate when and how to begin, while 
Charlotte's thoughts were too evidently far away. 

The crisis came when, on this morning of the third 
of May, Jessica discovered Charlotte sitting at her 
desk finishing a note. Charlotte colored crimson when 
she found Jessica's eyes fixed upon her in a strange, 
compassionate gaze. 

" You are not writing to Mr. Bond ? " 

" Yes, dear. I have asked him to come as soon as 
he can. The doctor told me he was here — two weeks 
ago," she confessed shyly. " Oh, it is so delightful to 
be well again ! " 

'* But how can you be so sure he will come now ? " 
said Jessica. 

" Ah — you do not know him ! Why should he not, 
dear ? " 

^^ Because, Challie dear — did nH the doctor say the 
rest % " asked Jessica, hopelessly. 

" The rest ? " 

" Yes ; that Mr. Bond is going to marry Miss Cath- 
erwood ! Dearest, I could n't tell you until you were 
strong." 

Charlotte put down her pen. Her color flew. She 
rested her elbows on the desk and pressed her fore- 
head in her hands. Jessica came and placed her arms 
around her friend. There was no word. 

'^I cannot say I am surprised, dear," said Jessica, 
aimlessly. 

There was a long silence in the room. The soft 
May air came in through the open window. It brought 
the chiming of the bells in the steeple of the church 
where Franklin Bond would soon stand before the 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 183 

altar. It blew tlie hair which Charlotte had fondled 
in thinking of him. For a time she seemed unaware 
of Jessica's presence. Suddenly Charlotte rose and 
walked across the room. 

'' I do not believe it/' she said resolutely. " I cannot 
believe it. Don't you know it was lack of faith that 
has made me miserable for two long years? Don't 
you know that he never lias failed to live up to what 
I think of him noiv f That was the trouble, Jessica. 
When I fii'st knew him I could take no man seriously. 
I looked down upon them. What childishness for a 
girl of twenty-three ! And even when I grew to know 
him so well, I could not see that he justified his aspi- 
rations. His capital seemed so slim to me then; I 
did not recognize the moral part of it. I did not un- 
derstand that he knew his disadvantages better than 
I did, and yet was less afraid in his own self than I 
was for him. I saw all his mistakes very clearly ; but 
I did not see that he never faltered one moment in his 
course — he always pressed forward — always ; some- 
times slowly, sometimes almost standing still ; but he 
always faced one way, Jessica, and I — I could have 
helped him so much more than I did ! If I had only 
understood ! But we laughed at him, and made fun 
of his work in the newspapers, and of the little book 
which he never published because I did not think it 
equal to some masterpiece — and there was no one for 
whose opinion he cared as he did for mine. He put 
the little book aside ; but he never stopped — he went 
on just as if I had never existed — only he took more 
pride in my praise than — Jessica ! And it made no 
difference what idle thing I said, or how I hurt him in 



184 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

my tliouglitless criticisms, or how I slioAved I thought 
him inferior chiy — he forgave me ; he never lost his 
gentle tone for one moment all the time I knew him. 
And I thought it was small humility on his part, I 
thought it was obeisance to my higher spirit — when 
it was onlv because he knew better and felt more 
deeply than I did, and forgave me out of the sweet- 
ness of his soul ! Oh, we have much to learn ! They 
teach us to applaud things that are applauded, but we 
do not learn to praise the man in the aspiration and 
in the struggle. And he never ceased to love me as 
long as I — and I do not believe he has ceased to noiv! 
If his name has been heard with Miss Catherwood's, 
why, it has been against his will. For all I know, per- 
haps he thought it might move me as it did the girl 
in the play. I told you about that. She thought she 
had lost him — then she began to feel his value. It 
made her wretched first. It made them both happy 
in the end. It was a matter of years ; but they cared 
for each other. Time could not change it. And do 
vou believe that the man who wrote that sweet little 
play, the one who was true to me through three long 
years of wretched unappreciation on my part, through 
rebuff and insane womanish freaks and distrust and 
almost ridicule at times — do you believe he has for- 
gotten the things he said to me ! Why, I have faith 
now ! If vou were to tell me anvthino; in the world 
against him I would believe him innocent. I liave 
faith. I believe he loves me to-day — just as he al- 
ways did. And I — do not deserve it ! " 

^' But, oh, my darling ! " cried Jessica, bursting into 
tears, " he does n't love you any more ! He told me 
so — and I have been the cause of all this ! " 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 185 

" I have faith iu him ! " said Charlotte. " He would 
not open his heart to yon." 

" But he is being married away at this minute — in 
the church under those bells. I have his cards, ad- 
dressed to you. 2lHst you see ? " 

" Let me have them ! " gasped Charlotte. 

Charlotte stood at the window, holding to the sill 
in the whirl of things about her. The current of 
spring air struck cold against her heated temples. 
Her note to Bond rustled and blew from the table. 
The chiu'ch lay in the distance before her. The chimes 
rang out the wedding-march from " Lohengrin/' and 
the people would soon begin to stream from the portal. 
Her breath came quick and irregular. She thrust her 
arms out wide above her head, and appealed to the 
fresh blue sky with a sigh that shook her frame. 
Jessica retm-ned wet-eyed, with the invitation in her 
hand. Charlotte was rigid. She took the smooth 
paper in her hands — the lines swam — she did not 
see the names. Jessica dropped to her knees, and 
beseechingly clasped Charlotte, crying : 

" Can you ever in the long, long world forgive me ? " 

The paper floated to the floor. Charlotte's hands 
fell lightly on Jessica's shoulders. The silence was 
broken only by Jessica's sobs. 

''There is nothing to forgive," said Charlotte at 
length, slowly. " I was put to a test. I was offered 
doubt and mistrust — and I accepted them. I was un- 
equal to the test. Mr. Bond has to thank you. There 
is nothing." 

''Say that we can go on now," pleaded Jessica, 
tearfully — '^go on as we did before ever a man 
came into oui' happiness. I will give my whole life to 



186 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 

make you forget — my wliole life ! Poor, poor darling 
Charlotte ! " 

Charlotte slowly shook her head : 

" It cau never be exactly the same — not until we 
understand each other. I do not want to forget. It 
is not I who am to he pitied. I am better off than 
you. I have learned. I would not for anything in the 
world exchange my — for the man who once — for 
your innocence of what it is to trust — ! " 

That was two years ago. Charlotte is thirty. I 
do not know that she is prominent in charitable work, 
or has thrown herself into some intellectual field with 
an energy and devotion that are winning her laurels. 
I have not heard that she is specially glorified as the 
sweet fii'eside aunt of her brother's children, or the 
tender confidante of younger people in love. But I 
know that her hair has in it many threads of purest 
silver ; and that she looks quite thirty j and that — I 
should not like to be Charlotte. 

Jessica was married last fall to a man four years 
younger than herself. 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 




Is Mr. Howard Delafield turned from 
Seventy-blauk street into the ave- 
nue, a sleigh with scarlet plumes and 
a crystal dasher rushed past him and 
drew up in front of the Garston 
house. The Earl of Tyne alighted, 
and the footman had hardly touched the bell before 
the door opened and the earl went in. Mr. Delafield, 
on foot, paused for an instant in the middle of a step, 
and then kept on past the Garston house, as if that 
had not been his destination. He decided to return 
in half an hour, and, if the sleigh was gone, ring the 
bell — to find, probably, that Mildred had left for a 
ride with the earl and her grandmother. If so, Mr. 
Delafield would have to explain his late delinquencies 
on another day. It seemed a month since he had seen 
Mildred; but he was not quite loath to delay what 
now he knew he should say. He had been heavy- 
hearted all the way, and the rich spectacle of the earl 
and of the glistening sleigh and its men and jingling 
steeds made Delafield sick. 

But when he came back the sleigh was gone. Miss 
Garston had not ridden off with the earl. She was in ; 
and she greeted Delafield coolly, and led the way to 
the oak room, where a log fire crackled on the hearth. 

189 



190 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

"I don't understand/' she began, turning in the 
fuller light ; but her tone altered a shade. '' Are you 
ill ^? Could n't you come f " 

" I 'm all right/' he said, with a weary smile, taking 
the arm-chair. " It 's a long story ; I ought to have 
wi'itten." 

" I don't see why you did n't write," she said. " It 
has been a week. I could n't ask any one ; I simply 
lay awake. There 's so little defense of ignoring me. 
It 's against all our theories, and I never should hesi- 
tate to withdraw rather than accept it. I don't want 
to be hasty. You look pale, and I 'm sorry ; but you 
make me suffer, and you don't seem to understand, and 
you might as weU be in Japan." 

" I never should withhold my confidence," said Dela- 
field. " I could n't respect you if I did. So we shall 
not part for that. It is good/' he added ominously, 
" that we can be calm over serious things." 

" But what is so serious 1 " she asked, frightened 
from some of her color. "■ Tell me, have I seemed to 
do something'? Surely you don't believe that about 
the earl — that I let him pay me marked attention ? 
I wondered if those reporters had talked to you and 
added to the falsehoods they printed about him. I 
tried to fit a dozen reasons to your silence, but I could 
n't fit one. I saw you hurrying along Twenty-third 
street two days ago, and you did n't look disabled. 
Don't you see how queer — " 

" Do you know how long we have been engaged ? " 
he asked gi'avely. 

" Nearly three years/' said Mildi-ed, as if the time 
had not seemed long. 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 191 

*' And you are twenty-four years old, and I am as 
impecunious as I was three years ago. We can't go 
on this way — we must give it up." 

He did not look to see her face, but gazed intently 
on the flames. 

^' I thought then," he said, after a few moments, 
" that by now we might be married. I really had done 
well when I reached the editorial staff, and I thought 
I should soon have something better. But I did n't. 
Beyond a few hundreds saved, I have n't since made 
a gain. I Ve gone off ; my chances have decreased ; 
and I don't seem doomed to financial success. But in 
my capacity of one who treasures your welfare I will 
not be a fiasco. We must give it up, and you must 
take what better fate awaits you." 

She was rigid in the oak settee, with her eyes fixed 
on the Garston arms below the mantel. He shook his 
head in pity of himself. 

" I 've had time," he went on, in a strained voice, 
" to think. A man may be much that a woman hon- 
ors, and yet from a metropolitan point be a financial 
failure. We both thought the chances favorable ; but 
they are not. In four or five years I might, by dint of 
plodding, take you to Harlem, but not the best of it, 
to share my nonentity in ' apartments ' — a set of bins 
a hundred feet in the sky — a euphemism for a tene- 
ment. I could not promise more. You would be ex- 
communicated from society because you could not 
afford to entertain, and debarred from the opera be- 
cause you would not climb the heavens to hear it. 
Then you would find, after the novelty of our life had 
settled to a routine, that you were slowly dying of 



192 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

distaste, and that the only happy ones about you were 
those who could be content with farce-comedy and 
popular music and Sunday newspapers." 

The Garston arms were silver set in purple marble, 
and her face was cold against them. Her feet were 
motionless on the tiger's skin. Delafield appeared to 
be making a painful study of the flames. He started 
on, and had to begin twice. 

" Food, clothing, warmth, friends," he said, clearing 
his throat — "all are necessary. They cost in New 
York. You must have finery if you move with the 
friends of the Earl of Tyne ; you must have things to 
feed to them, and a place to receive them in. We 
must n't learn by dire experience what is so patent ; 
if there is an art of li\ing, we ought to consider the 
end, and allow for our older years, with your greater 
needs for dainties and carriages and servants and cli- 
mates. It is inevitable that some day you would com- 
pare your state with what it might have been, and me 
— with the other man ; and I am not siu-e I should be 
adequate ; I cannot advise the risk. The woman who 
marries a fortune is something assuaged if her love 
wears out ; and for you no brilliant marriage is im- 
probable. I should never forget that, left to your 
present surroundings, you might have come to care 
for a man of great wealth, or perhaps for one ^\dth 
both wealth and title, like the Earl of Tyne. And, on 
the other hand, to see vou condemned with me to such 
a contrast with what might have been, would destroy 
the lightness of my heart." 

The fire was subsiding. He paused. Very far away 
she seemed already, with her eyes, half closed, fixed 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 193 

on the gaping lion's mouth in the arms. He could not 
read her face. She might be occupied with some 
scornful misinterpretation. 

" I would n't have you think that I despair," he said 
suddenly. " I always go on. My philosophy does not 
refuse me self-esteem ; and it could n't refuse success, 
if life were forever and strength as long as life. But 
a woman ages ; she cannot so well begin a career in 
the middle of her prime. If you wait and wait, and 
curb all thoughts of other men, and finally do see me 
crushed — think of it ! See how it stands now. I am 
no longer an editorial writer — I have not been for a 
week. I have changed my rooms, so that the book 
reviews can meet my present expense. I shall find 
something else, simply because a man can't seek in 
vain forever. I left because they asked me to libel 
Dougherty, our misrepresentative in Congress, and to 
twist his foolish doings to the semblance of a misde- 
meanor. Dougherty does n't know enough to be a 
rascal ; and I refused, and they gave me a choice, and 
I resigned. Affairs have promised this for months ; 
for my self-respect grew always faster than my bank- 
account, and some of the things I used to condone are 
abhorrent to me now. I cannot call a college graduate 
a noble fellow because he ferrets out a girl who fled 
away to hide, and because he purchases her photo- 
graph from the villain who swore to defend her. But 
that is what first promoted my successor. For a long 
time I have refused to write some things they asked, 
and they found me worth concessions, though they 
knew how strongly I stood for reform ideas and how 
contemptible I held theii- party ^majors 5 but the new 

13 



194 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

man can do perhaps as well as I, and he stops at 
nothing. He is an example of " perfect discipline " ; 
he knows the division between moral and legal libel 
to a hair's breadth. I used to dream how satisfactory 
it must be to be a gentleman of the editorial column 
and wield nothing but a force toward better things. 
I thought then, you see, that all journalism was a pro- 
fessional pursuit. If I had been less caUow it would 
liav^e been far better for you." 

Her fingers lay on the arm of the settee, and the 
diamond on one of them — tlie only jewel she wore — 
shot up a cold glint caught and changed from the les- 
sening rays of the fire. He could see only her profile. 

'^ There is one thing I never have spoken of," he 
said, after a moment, compressing his lips. " I should 
be absurd to ignore that j^our grandmother is a rich 
woman who loves you and likes me well. In the event 
of her death you would receive a fortune by her will, 
or she might give you an income if you married. 
Both these possibilities may have crossed your mind 
as fair guaranties for the future ; but have you re- 
flected how the prospect of being the impecunious 
husband of a rich wife would load me with dread? 
My pride would not bear it — nor yours — for me to 
be a weakling beside your beauty and your money. 
It has not frightened me away, you understand ; it 
has made me pause, for your sake. It has brought me 
to a determination which nothing can alter." 

Her pallor was disturbing him. She was like ala- 
baster, and the rise of her chest was barely apparent. 
She had not spoken, or moved her eyes from the Gar- 
ston arms. The blaze had left the hearth, and the 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 195 

logs smoldered, growing blacker and blacker, while 
the sky outside took deeper and colder tints, and the 
winter sun was sinking in a flare of orange. He feared 
that she mistrusted his sincerity. 

" I may have seemed unimpassioned all through our 
engagement," he said, with regretful firmness. " But 
if I have seemed so, you will thank me. I know I 
hui't you. I shall not speak of myself — it is not the 
time ; but I submit that, if you release me, it will be 
better for us to — say good-by — now. Only your 
grandmother knows that we have been engaged ; and 
we have always maintained a dignity which you will 
not regret, perhaps, when we meet again in after years. 
That is all. Am I not right ! " 

He had finished. What he had doubted his courage 
for when he had sighted Mildred's house, the Earl of 
Tyne had given him strength to say. Now the words 
were out of his mouth, and as he waited for Mildred's 
answer his mind went back to the room in West 
Twenty-eighth street where he was going after he had 
parted with Mildred for perhaps the rest of their lives. 
It was a dingy and darksome and narrow room, no 
whit less melancholy for the presence of his bookcase 
and his desk and his books and etchings. It was a 
wretched place to go and lie awake in the first appall- 
ing realization of his sacrifice; it was wretched be- 
cause there on the table, in a silver frame with doors 
that were unlocked by a sacred key, would be the pic- 
ture of Mildred — Mildred as he had seen her once on 
the stairs, on the night of a ball. The frame had stood 
on his table for two long years, to be opened as often 
as he paused at early morning, after his work was 



196 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

done, before he went to dream of her. Whatever he 
did, the picture, or the absence of it, would dominate 
the room, and the room would dominate him. He 
would give up the room, he told himself ; he would 
take his sa\^ngs and wander abroad until the wound 
stopped bleeding. But even then he could never 
again unlock the silver frame, nor — unless he heard 
some day that Mildred was a countess — ever part 
with it. 

Mildred was still mute and white. The maid came 
knocking, and opened the portieres to fetch some 
wood. 

^' It 's gun out, ma'am,'' she said, from her knees, as 
she placed a small log on the andirons and poked the 
embers into a heap beneath. " Should I start it or 
leave it!" 

" Yes," murmured Mildred, with un\^dtting ambi- 
guity 5 and the maid, aware of an oblivion chilling- 
even to a servant, forsook the fire to its will. Dela- 
field turned to Mildred and paused for her answer. 
She began to breathe harder, and seemed about to 
speak J but she could not. He asked himself wretch- 
edly how one could doubt her who saw her eyes so 
blank with woe, and saw the clasping and unclasping 
of her fingers. Her mouth twitched as if she was a 
tiny girl and as if he had been treacherous and made 
her afraid of every one. In an escape of tenderness 
he let himself for a moment cover her hand. 

" Why, you poor child," he exclaimed, ^' it 's as cold 
as ice ! "Wliat makes it so ? " 

" It 's the ring," she said huskily, her eyes shunning 
him. "I — I release you ! " 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 197 

She took the diamond off and laid it on the arm of 
the settee. 

'^ But — please keep it," he said, at the memory of 
how he had put it on her finger many months ago. 
" You '11 keep at least that, won't you ? " 

" You forget it was your mother's — that she told 
you to give it to the woman you loved " said Mildred, 
with a trace of bitterness. " Only," she added, turn- 
ing to him, ^' just for a while will you sit here ? I want 
to say some things, if I can, that would have come to 
me when you were gone — things I should suffer not 
to say. Once I could n't have asked you ; but three 
years make a change. I cannot readjust myself so 
quickly — with no warning. Will you come?" she 
asked faintly. 

He moved to the place beside her on the double set- 
tee. The fii-e, lingering along the bottom of the logs, 
reflected some glow from the hearth, brighter because 
the twilight was beginning. The white diamond glit- 
tered on the settee arm, minus an owner. Mildi'ed kept 
half turned away from him, and he waited for her to 
go on. 

^' It 's because ours has been so — different from 
others," she said, struggling for words. " Other men 
are much more — more enthusiastic to the women who 
promise to marry them. But you seem to have thought 
you ought n't to be, or else you did n't care. And 
I always feared to say — perhaps — how good you 
were." 

She paused for a moment. 

" Because," she went on, " I could n't — in words — 
they mock me, and you left no other way. If you 

13* 



198 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

had n't been outwardly so true and careful, and so 
fierce in your hatred of fraud, I should have thought 
you could n't have much feeling. But, as it was, I 
believed you meant to honor me." 

Delafield was looking into the embers. 

" You 've been so different from what I expected — 
when you asked me. You were so good then ! I had 
read your heart from the instant you came to care. I 
knew for weeks that you were weighing it over ; and 
I was so proud of you for first telling me about — your 
prospects. Perhaps you thought I did n't appreciate 
that ; and I 'm sure you ^vere shocked at my quick 
assent, for you did n't know how I had wished it for 
months and months. And now you think that what 
I accepted so readily I can easily lose. You never will 
know ; for I am not as I was. I used to quench my 
doubts , but I can't be certain now whether you ever 
cared or not." 

The embers were fading out, and her face was re- 
ceding in the gloom. 

" How little I know you," she went on, the words 
coming faster, '' that I can talk so — after these years ! 
It 's because you placed me too high, perhaps ; made 
me a goddess instead of a friend. I did n't want to 
be a goddess ; it is n't a real thing. I wanted to be 
like other well-bred women when they give their word. 
But I could n't ask you to be different ; I could n't 
speak of it now if I ever expected to see you again. 
My friendship did n't attract you. You saw this house 
and the precious girdles I wear, and you concluded 
that I was too dainty to be useful, and too feeble to 
stand the battle of life — for any sake ; and you liked 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 199 

me because I made a pretty ornament in this Imck- 
gTOund, just as you part with me because you cannot 
maintain it. I was foolish not to see that. You enjoy 
in me the very contrast with what I admired in you. 
You have never seen any one just like me ; and when 
you found me in such surroundings, not pampered 
or silly or spoiled, I impressed you. It must have 
been because I looked well standing at the head of the 
stairs, with the stained-glass light, and the maid lift- 
ing on my cloak, and the footman waiting stiff below 
with my traveling-bag — as you saw me once, and 
looked so worshipful. How strange you were not to 
know that you were stronger and better and finer a 
sight than I ! At that moment I should have rather 
gone with you, with a cheap bag and a cheap cloak 
and no footman and no maid, than have gone as I did, 
with any one else in the world. I did n't know you 
then as I do to-day. The maid and the stained glass 
had been traditions in our family simply because 
wealth and elegance had been traditions; but tliey 
did n't make our happiness. Health was what we 
asked, and the joy of exerting strength and will, 
whether it was my grandfather in his ship or my 
father in his bank. If you think I have degenerated 
from them, you are neither clever nor complimentary." 

The darkness had pressed down between them, 
though she sat so near. The solitary diamond spar- 
kled close to her fingers' ends. He heaved a deep, un- 
even sigh ; but Mildred's voice was growing stronger. 

" I should have seen how far apart our real ideals 
lay ; but I was foolish, and I do thank you for your 
dignity now. You differed so^ from the men I was 



200 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

meeting. They were either stupid or gross, or jellied 
with vice, or poor cartoons of foreigners. There was 
n't one of them Avith the grace of the Earl of Tyne, 
and there was n't one of them like our people — like 
my father. But you were so ambitious and vigorous 
and daring! You had even done brutal things, I 
thought, thougli I admired the dash that took you 
through them, because I felt that better taste would 
come to you, as it has. In most things you had all 
the finish of the men I knew, and vou realized twice 
as much as they dreamed. You had struggled, too, 
and suffered anxiety and temptation ; and yet you 
were as ruddv and clear-skinned and steadv-handed 
as a young gii'l. You grew — I could see you grow ; 
and you called to all that was potent and healthy in 
mv mind. I wanted to run beside vou, and do and 
dare things with you, and live yom* life of vigor and 
conquest. I did n't want to be carried — I 'm too much 
alive. I knew I could not run so fast or so far as you ; 
but I could go each day faster and farther than you 
could carry me. I used to tell you this, and you used 
to say what a mighty team two such as we would be 
when we both put shoulder to the wheel, each to his 
best. But you did n't mean it, or else you meant it 
for all the world but me. Your real picture was a girl 
at the head of the stairs, waiting freshly groomed and 
gowned, all crisp and idle and full of pretty femi- 
nine affairs to dissipate yom* weariness and vexations. 
That has its fascination, true enough, and quite enough, 
for most of us ; but it is n't the thing for me. I 'm 
too jealous of your houi's away from me — I mean I 
should be if I cared. I should expect your life-work 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 201 

to be part of yoiir soul, and I should want to be part 
of it in some way, too. I should want to serve wher- 
ever I could, being your friend — the best you ever 
had. I should lose the last memory of myself in the 
one I cared for. That woidd be living — for me. But 
you — would n't understand it." 

A screen stopped most of the light that would have 
come in through the windows, and the fii-e was hidden 
in its own ashes. They were in the dark. The chim- 
ney-place was growing coldj the sleigh-bells in the 
street, recalling the Earl of Tyne, sounded cold, too ; 
and the cruel things she said were tingling. He had 
not thought that words would ever hurt him from so 
sweet a source. 

" Then if you failed," she continued, ^' I should know 
it was fate, not lack of me 5 just as a triumph would 
n't be yours alone, but ours, as life, would be ours. A 
woman who asks that, who can let you go without a 
pang because you fail to value it — she would never 
be a drag, no matter how much she had to learn. I 
have no genius, I know; I can't write; and so you 
think my energies would be dispersed by society — 
that I should languish for the Earl of Tyne ! You 
have n't believed me when I said I had no taste for 
that. I 'm not opposed to social life ; I know it too 
well: it keeps more people out of mischief than it 
spoils. But it is n't the thing for me. I have vigor 
that will not let me dawdle ; and independence and 
will that never betrayed me until I thought I cared 
for you. I don't wonder you mistake me; I never 
am so timid and weak as with you ; nor so stupid as 
not to see when I 'm made a sport of." 



202 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

She stopped for a moment. 

'' But you wrong me, Mildred ! '' he said painfully. 

" I never wronged you while I expected to be your 
wife," came her spirited answer. '■ I took in earnest 
everything you said. Life means so much to me ; it 
has so many charms — such great rewards for force 
and action ; its very buffets have a taste for me. You 
never imagined for an instant what terrific impatience 
I leashed from day to day since we were first engaged ; 
how I longed to grasp your hand and be off and be 
living. You would have thought it bold if I had told 
you while we were engaged. Oh, I used some days to 
walk in Central Park all the morning; to tire myself 
and keep myself from Ijdng awake to think how I 
might help you. If I did n't, I wanted to fly — to 
jump from my window. Wliat a waste it was — a 
waste of thought and sleepless nights, when I could 
rise in the morning and walk my miles and yet come 
back sleepless, because I longed to be up and working- 
out the traditions of my blood ! And all my dreams 
pointed to you, who took me for nothing — nothing 
but lace ! You don't know me. You don't know 
what I like, or what I need, or how little you ful- 
fill your promise. You think I want carriages ! I 'd 
rather have a driving snow and high boots and an 
alpenstock, with a loaf of rye bread in a haversack, 
than tool a coach A\dth the Earl of Tyne through ten 
columns of a newspaper. You think I should languish 
in a flat with a man who was mine and knew me 
through and through — languish for want of a box 
at the Metropolitan, and for want of an earl when I 
had my own nobleman plighted to me gladly ! You 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 203 

apprehend me, but you cannot comprehend me in the 

least." 

The soft fabric of her sleeve touched his shoulder; 
but he felt as far removed from her as if three years 
ago she had not laid her head uj^on his shoulder and 
said she was happy there. Delafield winced. 

" But you don't know the dreary reality/' he said 
hopelessly. " You never knew rude living except as 
a bit of contrast. You have n't felt its deadening 
power." 

''You could n't deaden me with rude living if I 
chose to accept it," she exclaimed angrily. "You 
could n't break my spirit with plain walls so long as 
there was air and sky and the elements of food. I 
know it deadens the dead; it frets small souls; it 
would stimulate me. If it would n't, there is no such 
thing as binding hearts. If a strong woman cannot 
share your lot as honor makes it, then she never loved 
you more than half. If you don't expect that princi- 
ple, you don't honor her and you don't care. I know 
my words are only sounds to you ; I ought to say, ' I 
adore you — if you can furnish steam heat and all the 
modern improvements ! ' You 'd respect me just as 
much if I did. But now you think I 'm melodramatic, 
and I think you are ; for every word you spoke has 
been affected. If we had gone on as we did until we 
married, our misunderstanding would have finished, 
but our mistake would have only begun. You are 
not keyed up to my pitch," she said passionately. 
" You 've taken three good years of my life under 
false pretenses ; and you 've humiliated me so that I 'm 
ashamed to look at you, and L'm glad it 's dark!" 



204 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

"Ah, but you don't know!" he protested wretchedly, 
gripping the back of the settee so that it creaked. 
" And you don't know how hard it has been to say it ! 
I should have been a coward and held it back if I 
had n't seen him coming up your steps. I had started 
in indecision, and every step saw me worse ; but his 
splendor made me sick. If you care no more than 
you say, I 'm already — l)ut you must care, Mildred j 
you would n't speak so hotly if you did n't." 

" Then I '11 speak more calmly," she said, with what 
seemed seK-possession. "We both have much to 
thank the earl for, it seems. Has the fire quite gone 
out? Perhaps you find it chilly here?" she added, 
turning to him in the gloom. 

He made no answer, but his hand dropped from the 
back of the settee. 

" I '11 go now," he said at last, trying to adopt her 
manner. Yet he waited, while she kept silent, and 
heard his breathing, and saw the sparkle of his dia- 
mond just beyond her finger-tips. A cold di*aft blew 
down through the chimney and swept the ashes. 

" There '11 be a time," he said, " when you 11 look 
upon me as only a newspaper man, without distinction 
from all the rest. He will see me, and he '11 think of 
the vulgar, venal irresponsibility of the most blatant 
of our newspapers, of the sort that traduce their igno- 
rant readers and aflt'ront their intelligent ones with 
every revolution of their press ; and he '11 say con- 
temptuously, ' That is one of the men who write what 
they would blush to own.' And yet there are clean 
sheets, for those who have taste for them ; and one may 
be botli a journalist and a gentleman j and if not, he 'd 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 205 

only be one in ig*nominy with the thousands who 
bought what he wrote. But when a few years are 
gone all I shall be to you is — a newspaper man." 

^^ If a man respects himself, that should be enough," 
she said coldly, as if she did not divine that he was 
thinking of the earl. 

Delafield stood up. He paused for a moment, and 
she knew he was trying to discern for the last time 
her outline in the darkness. Then slowly he made his 
way around back of the settee, past tables and chairs, 
to the door. She heard the clink of the rings of the 
portieres, and could tell that he had paused again, 
holding the curtain in his hand. She realized that 
the next few moments would shape the coui'se of her 
life. 

^'Oh, will you please find the bellows for me before 
you go ? " she asked in a new tone suited to pleading 
for a favor. 

He came groping his way back, with hands out- 
stretched, and accidentally touched her face. She 
gave a little start and an exclamation which he did 
not comprehend. The maid turned the current on in 
the hall, and some light came over the top of the 
portieres. 

" Did I hurt you ? " he asked. " I could n't see." 

'4 ;^o — I understand," she hastened to say, with a 
shiver. She had thought he meant a caress. ^^I 
wanted the bellows to blow the fire, please. I 'm cold." 

He picked it out, and, as he would have done when 
they had been engaged, used it on the ashes to save 
her the trouble of it. At first the embers took some 
life : then thev drowsed. 

7 t/ 



206 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

" It 's gone too far," he said griml}^ 5 ^4t won't come 
up again." 

"Oh, I tJii)iJc it will," she said fervently, ''if you 
only try ! " 

He kept on mechanically, looking into the embers ; 
but they gave no more than a glow that seemed to 
compensate for the pallor of his face. 

'^ It 's no use," he said at length, letting the mouth of 
the bellows drop, and staring dejectedly into the ashes. 

" Don't be disgusted," she urged, so softly as if she 
feared to frighten the flames away. " Can't you try 
again f " 

" I 'U send the maid ; I '11 ring the bell as I go out," 
he said, keeping turned away from her, and about to 
rise. 

" But you 're not going to force me to make the fire 
myself?" she asked gently, laying her hand on his 
sleeve and looking earnestly at him. " I don't want 
the maid. I want you — you to move the log a trifle, 
please — to where those splinters will catch. I 'm too 
cold to wait for the maid, and I want to say one little 
word more. Please take the stool." 

He did as she asked, and with the tongs moved the 
log to where the splinters took the flames ; and as she 
watched him, silently and with hungry eyes, the fii-e 
ran along until aU. the log was ablaze and crackling 
and lighting the room. He waited, not seeing her 
face, and growing bitter that she should be able to 
add to the injuries she had already inflicted. 

"About the earl," she began, with difiiculty — "I 
have seen him only three times in my life. We were 
introduced at Mrs. Van Thaler's, and we talked for 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 207 

about ten minutes. I did not go to ride with him, as 
the papers said ; and I never showed that I liked him. 
Last week he called here, and I was astonished and 
grandma w^as enraged ; but we saw that he was under 
some delusion. To-day, just as I sent a servant to 
buy your paper to see if it chanced to mention your 
whereabouts, he came again. We had never asked 
him to come to see us. In a little while I managed 
to find what his mistake was. He took me for Miss 
Gaston, farther up the avenue ; he did n't know that 
our name was Garston. He said she had invited him, 
but that he had forgotten her face and remembered 
only her name, which was known all over the world 
in connection with a great business house; and he 
said he had forgotten my name, but remembered my 
face. I told him that we knew the Gastons but 
slightly. Then he apologized very regretfully, and 
went away. I don't know him." 

She waited wistfully for Delafleld to make some 
comment, but he did not. 

^' And grandma could n't leave me anything," she 
said, miserable at his silence. ^' It all goes to charity, 
because papa was wealthy then, and grandpa did n't 
expect him to die so poor, and so they arranged it all 
between them. I shall have just my own little income. 
I wear these things only because grandma insists on 
buying them ; but when she 's gone I shall have only 
my few hundreds, and tliey ought n't to be enough to 
frighten even you away." 

She paused and waited in vain. Delafield said 
nothing. Her eyes fell on the diamond, and its 
sparkle was too much for themr 



208 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 

" I did n't have any more to say," she faltered, half 
choking. "I — I thought — " 

The tears that had assembled behind her vehemence 
rushed up in triumph over her striving, and she trem- 
bled and shuddered with her grief. For a moment 
Delafield clenched his fists behind him ; then they 
opened, and he moved quickly to her side. 

^^ Shall I love my happiness more than you ? " he 
said distinctly. " Shall I follow my heart alone ? " 

'^ Yes — yes ; be selfish — be selfish ! " cried Mildred. 
"I — I want to be worth fmy and hate and fighting 
for ! There is n't anything in tlie world I want so 
much as vou ! " 

He took her strongly in his arms, and tenderly 
kissed her. She was still sobbing, but differently} 
and he let her weep for the easing of her heart. 

" I shall adopt your view," he said resolutely, with 
his lips at her ear. ^'From now I shall believe all 
you believe ; and we '11 start and make our life a 
proof of our creed. Don't fear that I shall be weak ; 
I was thinking of you, and I made a mistake. I al- 
ways go on. Please — " 

"Yes," she said joyously, her arms around his neck 
and theu' eyes meeting in new trust and happiness; 
" you were tired and worn with anxiety, and the earl 
bothered you, dear. But it will not be so again, be- 
cause fii'st you '11 tell me everything. You must take 
a long rest to-night; but you must stay to dinner, and 
di-ink something liot to prevent you from having got- 
ten cold while 1 was so horrid." 

With her repentance she was nearly ready to weep 
again, and she sprang up on a plea of di'awing the 



ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 209 

shades. There came a heavy clang of sleigh-bells 
without, different from the ordinary. 

" Come quick ! " she said. 

She had looked out in the glare of the electric lights 
and had seen the sleigh with the scarlet plumes and 
the crystal dasher. There were the two splendid 
towering flunkies, strictly enprofil; and behind them, 
haK frozen in their furs, the young Earl of Tyne, ele- 
gantly dressed, and a brilliantly costumed girl of 
countenance sharp and sagacious. 

Delafield came up behind Mildred and slipped the 
diamond to its place on her lovely finger. 

" And who 's the lady "? " he asked. 

" That 's Miss Gaston," said Mildred. 



14 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 




^^^^^^^ELL, I '11 tell ye. Captain Silas Far- 

ragut Tarrant, U. S. N., owned a 
farm whereon was a barn wherein 
was a horse over which was a room 
where slept a little red Irishman — 
Clarence O'Shay — who loved both 
the pipe and the jug. Which I say 
no word agin urn, but one night the rum rose up in 
O'Shay and the coals dropped out of uz pipe aflame 
on the straw of uz bed, and the barn burnt down 
and the horse burnt up. 

And Clarence O'Shay ran that fast away from the 
blaze that when the Captain had um up on charge of 
cruelty to a beast and arsony to a barn, Clarence come 
into court with an alibi ; whereby the jury acquit um 
of arsony, by that he could n't have possibly been at 
the barn at the time ; and fined um twenty dollars for 
cruelty to a beast because at such time he ought to 
have been at the barn. 

And the Captain, as some say, to make amends for 
the charge found false, or as others say to git O'Shay 
before an impudent cocked-hat court some day, instid 
of a civil one, got an enlistment for O'Shay as a sec- 
ond-class blue-jacket in the navy, and then straight- 
way forgot of um. For the Captain was busy with 

14* 213 



214 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

trading of uz hot-skotclied farm and Avith having uz 
rich wife's relations tickle the administration to git 
um a fine command. 

And thev fixed it to shove aside the one that should 
have ut and give old Tarrant command of the battle- 
ship Vtaliy U. S. N., a brand-new grand machine of 
war of thirteen thousand ton by specification and 
fourteen thousand by fact, they say ; she had a 
whole grove of funnels and military tops and wicked 
rifles pointing every what way. And the Captain come 
aboard of her and hoisted his pennant and declared 
she was in commission. But 't was three months be- 
fore he had her ready to commit anything but lying 
forninst the pier. 

Well, Clarence O'Shay, going his way, was sent to 
a big fat wooden receiving-ship — one of the war of 
1812. That 's where I see um first; a square, short, 
squat, raw squab he was, with brick-colored fur and 
a jaw like the end of a box ; and uz shanks was twisted 
like andirons' legs. There was two or three hundred 
aboard, some recruits like him, and some with their 
hides tanned with experience, like me. I made a friend 
of um because he said that old Tarrant was beholden 
to um. 

And the officers took um and put um through the 
setting-up exercises day by day, till uz shoulder blades 
ground the skin of uz back between um and the beads 
stood out on uz brow, and they had um straightened ; 
and they swore at um till they filled um with respect ; 
and they taught um the evil end of a gun, and a no- 
tion of standing in line and counting fours and drill- 
ing with the rest of the tarriers ; and I learned um 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 215 

liow to swing to uz hammick without kicking all f our 
of uz neighbors out of bed ; and he got the gift of ut 
in three months, and no credit to uz stupidity. 

And when we made part of a draft of fifty to fill 
out the Utah I took um under me wing and showed 
um how to smuggle uz jug in the broad light of day 
past the searching sergeant of marines ; and he took 
to that handily. But — oh, a real man-o'-war was a 
wildering bedazzlement to um ! 'T was cross-eyeing 
to um ! Such that he spent the deal of uz time a-f ail- 
ing through coal-holes and hatches and ladderways, 
all by mistake — that green he was — and making 
friends everywhere in the bowels of the ship by ut, 
with telling how once he had risked uz life to save 
the Captain's horse from being dry-smoked. And I 
thought I see me way to some special dispensations 
from old Tarrant through O'Shay. 

And I took um a walk — to rub off uz luster. I 
showed um the air-pumps and steam-pumps and hand- 
pumps and hydraulicky-pumps, and the fan-gear and 
tiller-gear and turning-gear ; and condinsers and ice- 
makers and forty small engines here and there ; with 
the winches and capstans and dynamos, and ash-hoists 
and shot-lifts and railways, and deck-plates and hand- 
wheels, and water-tight doors and holds and bottoms 
— me telling um what each and every one was for. 
And I expostulated to um how the gi-een-flanged red- 
painted pipe overhead carried water, and the yellow- 
flanged blue pipe carried steam from the donkey, and 
the black-flanged gray pipe carried pressed au^, and 
the red-flanged green pipe carried hydraulicky, and 
the speaking-tube pipe, painted yellow, took whispers 



216 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

all over the sliip ; and I showed niii twenty flush 
hatches and started to tell um what each one was for. 
But O'Shay took to drink — sayino; that Heaven would 
forgive uni. 

And he nursed uz jug till he emptied it — and that 
with all stragglers al^oard and us lying in the lower 
harbor with every one sobering for a cruise ! And he 
laid down on the tank-tops and sing : 

I 'd rather be right than Prisident ! 
I 'd rather be boggled than right, bedad! 
Po}) ! — goes the goozle ! 

and such profanity. And when I asked um to brace 
up uz back and temper uz voice to the regulations he 
said he was too busy with uz joy. And I begged 
um and begged um for fear of court-martial and 
me losing uz influence to straighten umself — but 
in vain ; and when I spilled a bucket of brine on uz 
head he said he was tight — tight — water-tight ; and 
he asked if I was a blue bag-pipe with red fringes — 
that obvious to uz surroundings he was ; and when I 
give um me boot in uz ribs he laughed with joy and 
said 't was the pleasantest sensation in the history of 
man. 

And so for fear of uz court-martial for smuggling 
uz jug I lifted a man-hole door and doubled um up 
and stuffed um down between the inner and outer 
skins of the ship — 't was a space not three feet in the 
clear ; and I closed um in with a light to sleep by and 
screwed down the nuts on the door hard and fast. 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 217 

And the last command I heard him say was to lower 
no more blasted coffins there, but to leave um in the 
gentlemanly enjoyment of uz tomb. 

Well, I hauled off and forgot of um. For I see by 
the signs that the ship was to crawl away by moon- 
light, and me to serve me lick at the wheel at mid- 
night. So I hove to and snored in me hammick be- 
tween me favorite beams. And there was little 
Clarence, forty feet below, lying boxed up on the 
hard cement of her outside bottom, with her inner 
bottom for uz sky — not two feet above uz nose, and 
uz feet agin her vertical keel and uz head bang up 
agin another vertical plate called a longitudinal. For 
ye see, a steel man-o'- war's shell is built on the cellu- 
lose system, — as though ye should cut off one story 
of an empty honey-comb and bend ut to the shape of 
a ship's bottom ; and this was one of the cells which 
six of 'em made a compartment on the Utah. And 
ye could crawl from one of the six to another by vii'tue 
of holes in the upright plates ; but beyond the six of 
the compartment ye could n't go without tearing- 
through a twelve-pound plate, unless by the man-hole 
door, which was screwed down tight above Clarence's 
head. 

But O'Shay laid absorbing the flavor of uz drink 
long past when old Tarrant come aboard from a 
champagne goozle, two-thirds content with the uni- 
verse and placing main reliance on uz executive offi- 
cer. The Captain ordered the Utah under way and 
tumbled into uz bunkj and I heard the anchor haul- 
ing utself in over the windlass and the engines begin 



218 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

to go bump — bump, bump — bump, and I knew in 
me sleep we was off hunting for bad weather for a 
sea-test. 

And by and by, down below, O'Shay half waked 
in uz sleep and inquired the time of day, and no one 
answered um — nothing but the stamping of the old 
double-harnessed elephants of engines two hundred 
feet abaft of um. And he laid on uz back with the elec- 
tric handlight at uz side gazing up at the black man- 
hole door, and by inches he partly come to himself — 
seeing above um and below um and all around um 
nothing but cold red iron walls and hearing the hard 
pounding of something not very far off, he did n't 
know what. And then a cold shiver chased utself all 
over um, for the thought of uz being bui'ied alive in 
an u'on casket that way. " Begad," he says, " I re- 
member now I died with onlv a boot in the ribs for 
me absolution," he says, " and begad I hear the tread 
of the twelve apostles plain as day ! " And with that 
he drew in a breath like a wheezy cylinder and let out 
a howl to 'em for a stay of proceedings on uz soul ; but 
he might as well have been a rat a-di'ownding in the 
bilge ; for the twelve apostles kept on treading, tread- 
ing, — bump, bump, — never no farther and never no 
nearer — keeping step all the time as if they was 
walking in a circle round um enjoying the fun of ut. 
And he give a shriek and tried to jump up, but the 
iron skin struck uz head and knocked um down, and 
he saw a hole that let into the next cell and he crawled 
through ut like a wild snake, dragging the light and 
leaving uz wits and pieces of uz breeches behind um, 
first praying and begging of the apostles, and then a- 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 219 

swearing at 'em and then a-cnrsing of the Captain's 
horse for burning up and leaving um to be buried alive 
at sea, and all the time crawling and howling and cold- 
sweating till he crawled through the six cells back 
again to the first; — and he laid down on uz face and 
weep with distaste of ut. 

When uz tears was spent he found that uz hand 
was grasping of a pipe. And seeing ut was painted 
yellow O'Shay come to umself a bit, and remembered 
what 't was, for sure. For ye see, the speaking-tube 
pipes in the TJtali was led down through the inner 
bottom to keep 'em safe from splinters and shell ; and 
this happened to be the one that went forward from 
the Captain's bunk — the same I showed um in the 
pilot-house, with telling um if he was captain he could 
speak with me through ut. And O'Shay took out his 
grandfather's knife, with the file in ut, and sawed 
away at the brass pipe to make a hole in ut ; and he 
recollected the flask in uz pocket and took comfort by 
that ; and he filed like a good one, and emptied the 
flask, and soon he had a hole in the pipe as big as a 
dollar J and he put his big mouth to ut and says: 
" Phe-euw ! " with a breath that blowed the brass fil- 
ings a jingling for yards abaft. And the automatic 
mouth-piece aft in the Captain's cabin — 't was nigh 
on to midnight — and the same like mouth-piece for- 
rard in the pilot-house, both whistled to wake the 
dead. For ye see, Clarence being in the middle, was 
establishing umself with both ends of ut — though he 
had no thoughts but of me. And the quartermaster's 
mate in the pilot-house jumped to the mouth-piece 
and whispered : '^ Yessir." And in the cabin old Tar- 



220 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

rant, waked up from uz champagne doze by the hiss 
in nz ear, took np the month-piece that hnng by a 
flexible tnbe from the sheathing, and says Tvith impa- 
tience : '^ Well, sir ? " Which neither of 'em heard 
the other J bnt O'Shay, down below, hearing their 
voices associating together, shouts : " Come and un- 
lock me, ye blasted idiot ! " And the quartermastei'^s 
mate, thinking old Tarrant was locked in his state- 
room, says: ^'Yessir!" and charged horse and foot 
along the deck toward the cabins. And old Tarrant, 
at hearing such marvelous insubordination shouted 
to um by some one at the other end of the tube, 
shot up from uz bunk like a mortar. " Ye 're under 
arrest ! '' says he, through the mouth-piece. ^' Go tell 
the master-at-arms to lock ye up!" says he. And 
O'Shay, thinking ut was me, shook uz fist at the 
hole in the pipe, and bawls in old Tarrant's ear : " Un- 
der arrest, is ut f I 'm ten miles under dry land ! " 
says he. ''Come lemme out — or I 11 make a corpse 
of ye that can't walk the streets of Heaven in de- 
cency ! " and A\'ith hearing that blasphemy the Cap- 
tain leapt over and pushed a bell, and uz Scandina- 
vian blockhead of a private-of-marines-orderly come 
in. '' Arrest that man in the pilot-house, ye numb- 
skull ! " orders the Captain. 

And the private-orderly-numbskull lit out for the 
pilot-house, running to split uz tight blue robin's-egg 
breeches ; and he meets the quartermaster's mate run- 
ning and asking : " What 's the matter with the skip- 
per ? " — and says the orderly : " What 's the matter at 
the pilot-house ? " and they both went on without an- 
swering each other. And the mate burst into the 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 221 

Captain's stateroom, saying eagerly : " Did ye want 
help, sir?'' "Help, ye fool!" roars the Captain. 
'^ Who said nt ! Do I want help to put on me trou- 
sers ? You 're under arrest, too, sir ! Go tell the or- 
derly to arrest ye despite yer resistance ! " he says, or 
something like ut. "I '11 see if there 's mutiny aboard 
this craft," says old Tarrant, putting his feet into the 
sleeves of uz dress coat by mistake, and howling in a 
voice to wake the dead and half the ward-room offi- 
cers : " Call the officer of the deck ! Pilot-house there," 
he says, through the mouth-piece, leaning over uz 
bunk ; —'' send aft the officer of the deck ! " And 
O'Shay, down below, thinking ut was me, bellers back : 
" I '11 send ye aft the twist of me thumb in yer eye," 
he says ; ^' come down and lemme out or I '11 come up 
and make a horse-meat sausage of ye ! " And about 
that time I began to hear 'em in extraordinary expe- 
ditions on deck, and the orderly hollerin' to split um- 
self, and the master-at-arms running steeple-chases, 
and I says to meself ut 's time to spill. 

And from the hatchway I noticed there was no of- 
ficer on the bridge, so I reconnoitered the man at the 
wheel — the one I come up to be standing by to re- 
lieve. '' The matter!" says he, shifting uz quid and 
staring straight on in her coui'se— 't was a bright 
moonlight night, ten miles off Sandy Hook. " There 's 
the divil to pay and no pitch hot," he says. " Just 
listen to the old man talking in uz drink through the 
voice-pipe ! " And I took the mouth-piece and heard 
a voice saying: "I warn ye ; if me soul leaves me 
body I '11 come up at ye through the pipe, I will ! I '11 
stick yer heart that full of holes^as a strawberry ! " he 



222 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

says. " Me naked spirit '11 sit on yer ear/' he says, 
"like a barnacle on a clam — talkin<^ to ye till the 
end of time ! " he says, ^' and longer, begad ! " 

And me heart moved two inches to one side, fori 
know'd 't was O'Shay that was bringing the whole ship's 
company to uts feet with the belief that old Tarrant 
had gone daft with uz drink. I could hear manding 
and countermanding from stem to stern of her. With 
that I grabbed a gallon of valve oil from the floor of 
the pilot-house and dumped ut quick down the pipe 
and polished off the mouth-piece with me sleeve. And 
I tumbled below, for I had but five minutes to git 
O'Shay and save uz neck from court-martial ; and I 
knew the oil would only stop um till he could spit ut 
out and draw uz breath. For luck there was no one 
by when I unfastened um. " Hello, Clarence," says I. 
"What are ye here for!" "For me health, ye ba- 
boon ! " says he, spitting oil from uz teeth. And at 
fii'st he showed fight ; but I haided um out by the col- 
lar of uz neck and sat um down hard once or twice on 
the tank-tops to show um uz legs was too stiff for ut, 
and I whispered to um of the officers' running around 
crazy to find um, with their threats of keel-hauling 
um. And I carried um up the ladder on me back and 
planted um on deck with care. 

Along come a young surgeon looking for what he 
could find, and says he: "What ails this man!" 
" Nothing, sir," says I ; " he 's fallen down two hatch- 
ways and disturbed uz innards, as appears from uz 
mouth, su*," which was still bubbling oil. And the 
surgeon says : " Dump um into the sick-bay." Wliich 
I did, giving um a pointer to keep mum with uz voice 
about smuggling uz jug, and advising um to git all 



THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 223 

the sleep he could; "for I hear/' I says, "ye 're to be 
hanged at the signal-arm at sunrise." 

And when I come for me trick at the wheel, on the 
bridge I see the pilot-house full of ward-room officers, 
and they had the quartermaster's mate and the man 
whose relief I was and the wooden-head Scandinavian 
orderly, questioning all three of um about what they 
had said ; but the Captain they had soothed back to 
bed. And they could figure no relationship with the 
statements of them three and what the Captain had 
said. I heard ^em send for the regulations and I 
knowed they was considering the steps to be taken 
when a captain loses uz command by virtue of uz vice 
of intemperance, for they thought he had drillium 
trimmins. And from what I heard I see 't was the 
intention to watch um in the morning and take action 
according to uz condition ; and so they dispersed. 
And when me trick was done at four o'clock in the 
morning T lost no time in dropping below to make 
a clumsy job of repairing the voice-pipe, at the risk 
of imminent discovery. 

'T was four bells of the morning before I had fin- 
ished ut. I says to meself, I '11 go and be shining brass 
knobs in the cabin, to take the Squab's place and hear 
what is said. And the fii'st thing old Tarrant re- 
marks when he opens the door was : " Go tell the offi- 
cer of the deck to send aft all those men I placed un- 
der arrest last night at midnight." Which I did, and 
the officer hummed and hawed and says : " How does 
the Captain look this morning?" "How does he 
look ? " says I ; "he looks like he had bad sleep last 
night, sir," I says, "and maybe misleading dreams, 
with no irreverence to um, sir." 



224 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 

Aud the officer saj^s: "Humj go tell um lie was 
mistaken. He placed no man under arrest last niglit.'^ 
And when I told old Tarrant that, he did n't fly off 
uz handle, but looked a bit dazed to umself . " 'T was 
the night before," he says to umself; "yes, never 
mind, 't was the night before." And he come with 
false leisure forrard, and see the quartermaster's mate 
standing on one leg agin the tompion of old ten-inch 
smoking of uz pipe to beat the stack of a soft-burning 
Britisher. 

" Was ut las night," says the Captain, " I had you 
aft at midnight f '' he says, a bit dubious. " 3Ie, sir ? " 
says the mate with uz eyebrows flying up under uz 
hat ; " no, sir, 't was n't me, sir ; nor any night, sir." 
And old Tarrant walked aft again. And 't was the 
last word any one hear of ut, or of anything that 
had occurred that night. But during that cruise the 
color of old Tarrant's beak changed from a flaming- 
turkey red to a decent claret and water ; and 't was 
plain he thought he had the drillium dreams. 

Well I went forward and shook O'Shay to wake um. 
'^ Beware me naked spirit ! " he mutters, half obvious 
of umself. '^ Wake up, Clarence," says I, bringing um 
to umself. "Are ye better this morning, me boy? 
'T is twenty-four hours ye laid in a stupor calling out 
names to beat the divil. Ye 've had a bad case of 
drillium trimmins, me lad. 'T is a special dispensa- 
tion ye 're living this day ! " 

" Is that all of ut ! " says Clarence, rolling of uz eyes 
with relief. " Thank Heaven ! " he says. " I dreamed 
I was being shipped in a tin can to the King of the 
Man-Eating Isles ! " 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 



15 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF 

EPHRAIM 




^OME of the people forgot the ad- 
monition about avoiding the main 
road, and they went by the Junkins 
place, and were seen by Zendy as 
she sat at the window sewing pieces 
of apples on a string. Cory Judd, 
who scorned riding, walked past without a look — 
which was perhaps because of his shame at his pride 
in his new clothes. 

" Now, what 's Cory Judd all handsomed up for ? " 
said Zendy. " Do you s'pose he '11 tramp clear to Bos- 
ton, same ^s he threatens ? " 

Ephraim sat in the wooden rocker with the " Book 
of Seven Hundred Ailments," which was opened at 
Ailment No. 440. 

"I dunno," replied Ephraim. ''You holler down 
and ask him 'bout that ' Man-and-Beast Salve.' I 've 
got 440 sprouting out ^twixt my shoulder-blades, 
sure ^s you live ; and if it strikes in, it '11 lead to 441, 
and that '11 be my end. I 'm going to have another 
one them spells ; for I believe I must of et something.'^ 
'' I sh' like to come and ketch myself a-hoUering 
to Cory Judd ! " said Zendy, casting a glance at the 
"Book of Ailments." '' You 've got forty ^even salves. 
1 s^pose the next book will be "^The Complete Barn- 

227 



228 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

yard Physician.' Then you '11 be a-howling 'round 
with the pip, and the distemper, and conniption fits. 
If I was you I 'd tumble int' the cellar and git a new 
set of griefs — you ain't quite miserable enough these 
days. Now I do wonder what Cory Judd 's a-kiting 
so for. I sh' think 't was Fourth July, the way he 's 
slicked up ! " 

" Mebbe I sha'n't ever be slicking up any more," re- 
plied Ephraim. "I 'm a pretty faded man, Zendy, 
and you don't two thirds realize it. Don't suspect 
you will till I 'm took. Here 's 201 I 've had for years, 
and 213, and 697, and I felt a touch of 149 this morn- 
ing, just as plain as your face : 'aching back, dull eye, 
shooting pains, pale tongue — ' ! " 

'' ' Can't lie awake by night ; no appetite after 
meals,' " interpolated Zendy. " Overwork 's what 's 
done it. Yesterday you cleaned a lamp-chimney; and 
day before you wound the old clock. If I was you I 
should n't set and watch me sewing apples; might 
tucker you out. Now, if there ain't the Spinneys, in 
their new wagon, so washed and dressed they dasn't 
sneeze ! Do you s'pose it 's Sabbath, and we 've mis' 
laid a whole day from this week? What do you 
s'pose — ?" 

" Why can't ye yell to Elziiy Spinney to tell her 
boy to pull some that yeller-dock root out back their 
house?" replied Ephraim. ^'I kinder hanker after it, 
and it drives off 622. I sh' think you could ; might 
be my dying wish, for all you know. I can feel my 
liver palpitating 'bout twice too fast. Zendy, I 'm 
persuaded I must of drunk some rain-water that 
wa'n't biled. 1 bet I 'm heaping full of them in vis- 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 229 

ible phenomenons on page 1286 — them you can't see 
without a burning-glass. I ^ve got a million of 'em 
plotting and planning inside of me. I tell ye I can 
see the handwriting on the wall ! " 

" Well, I vow ! " said Zendy. '^ If you ain't grow- 
ing peskier and worse every day. You 're juss well 's 
I be — and you have been these two years. I sh' 
think you 'd been blowed up in a railroad accident ! 
All you think about is you. Now I sh' juss like to 
know what the Spinneys — " 

"Yuss, I be a-getting worse," replied Ephraim. 
"See how fat I am? It 's the dropsy,— 578, — just 
as noticeable as your nose. But I had n't spoke, be- 
cause I don't git no sympathy. There ain't a bone 
in my body but what 's warped with neuraligy ; but 
all you think about is the neighbors." 

" Well," said Zendy, with a sigh, " swaller your 
forty-'leven medicines! You pour 'em all into one 
now, don't ye? Why don't you take some shingle- 
nails and cider, 'gainst the general debility breaking 
out on ye? Land sakes, if there ain't the Stapleses — 
and them all perked up, too ! Ephrum, somebody 's 
having a time ; and you and me ain't invited ! " 

" Pshaw ! " said Ephraim, " Elziry was in yester- 
day; and she tells everything; and what she don't 
know 'bout what 's going on ain't so. I wish you 
had git-up-and-git enough to screech to Anne Staples 
and git the whereabouts of that doctor feller that 
proscribes by mail." 

"I know what they 're doing," said Zendy, sud- 
denly. " Sed Staples told me some one told her she 
overheard 'Mandy Dame say 'Lishy Lemly's daughter 

15* 



230 THE PAELOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

give out she wa'ii't going to have yon to her wedding. 
Said you always mourned so much 'bout your ail- 
ments that it set the whole company 's solemn 's con- 
ference. Said she 'd show folks a wedding without 
one your speeches. Now that 's just it ; they 're hav- 
ing that wedding; and I bet the rest of 'em was 
'shamed, and went 'round bv the lane." 

Epliraim had put down the '^ Book of Ailments." 

" But you don't s'pose so f " he said, rising to peer 
after the wagon with the Staples family sitting 
starchly in it. ^^Now folks would n't do that! I 
don't kinder believe folks would give a wedding nor 
any kind of time without me : you see I always make 
a speech, you know. Besides, I give Jerushy Jane 
Lemly a muskrat skin once ; and one time you worked 
her a fascinator." 

'^Yuss; but she always did the most at our husk- 
ings," said Zendy. 

"Yuss; but she always et the most punkin-pie, 
too; so that 's even," reasoned Ephraim. "You 
lemme git the paper ; mebbe they 's a circus." 

"Circus, pshaw!" said Zendy. "You lemme git 
the telescope ! " 

Zendy disappeared up-stairs, while Ephraim vainly 
searched the weekly edition. Zendy was gone for 
what seemed a long time, and Ephraim called to her, 
havmg long professed that climbing to the second 
story was too much for him. He thought that the 
loud puffing with which he at length made the ascent 
was sufficient notification to Zendy of his unusual per- 
formance, and that she would express her surprise 
at his approach ; but Zendy made no sign. The trap- 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 231 

door to tlie roof was open, and the marks of Zendy's 
shoes were on the dusty ladder. 

''Zendy!'' called Ephraira. ^' What do you see? 
Is it the wedding ? Zendy ! Zendy, you ain't fallen 
off the roof, have ye 1 Now I wonder if that old fool 
has slid off and broke her neck ? " wailed Ephraim in 
distress. ^' Zendy ! " 

" Um ! " said Zendy, finally, from above. She was 
outside, sitting on the ridge-pole, holding the tele- 
scope pointed through the trees toward the barn of 
the Lemly place, a mile in the distance. But she 
would not tell what she saw. 

" You ^re too sick a man," she said, grimly. " K I 
was to tell, you 'd git a spell of 1177." 

" Well, I know," said Ephraim. '^ Jerushy Jane is 
having that wedding, and I ain't invited. They think 
I 'm petered out and could n't speechify to set 'em 
gaping, same 's I used to. Guess I could outwrastle 
with old Lemly right now. Zendy, you got to walk 
past the Lemly place,— juss same ^s you did n't know 
we was slighted, — and give 'em lief to put the thing 
down in black and white. They sha'n't say ^t was 
forgitfulness, b' George! You go right 'long; do 
you hear?" 

'^ Sha'n't do no such thing," said Zendy. '' 1 shall 
leave 'em be. I can see 'em one by one putting their 
teams int' the barn, juss same 's they was 'shamed. 
Every one of 'em dressed up stiff 's a ramrod. There 's 
Elziry Spinney; did you ever see any one look so 
put-together 1 " 

Zendy refused to go and walk by the Lemly place. 
Ephraim argued that he could iVt do it ; because such 



232 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

an exertion would deliv^er him over to a number of 
numbers that always lurked in his constitution, as 
she ought to know. Zendy said that he could take 
the old pig and ride ; which roused Ephraim's feel- 
ings to an uncommon pitch. He rapped his stick on 
the floor and went down the stairs more quickly than 
he had come up, with unpleasant mutterings. Never- 
theless Zendy, sitting on the ridge-pole, was not pre- 
pared to see him issue from the house and start with 
decided steps down the short stretch that led to the 
main road. And when, without stopping, he turned 
and set off toward the Lemly place, Zendy put the 
astonished telescope on him. Ephraim had departed 
without taking his several medicines ; he had not in 
two years walked so far ; if he had gone away it had 
been after much urging, so that people who asked 
him to be present at their weddings thought them- 
selves under an obligation to him, and he had always 
driven in a degree of state. It had been rare to find 
him farther than the hen-house. Zendv was troubled. 

" I don't kinder like it," she said to herself. '' I do 
s'pose he is kinder poorly, though not 's much so 's he 
thinks. It 's unusual ; and unusual breeds unusual ; 
and I 'm scared lest something '11 happen." 

What happened first was that Jerusha Jane Lemly, 
while her best friends were worrying over her skirts, 
looked up the road from her chamber window and 
made an exclamation. The people she had seen driv- 
ing into the barn completed the invited company, 
which had been made select by a number of omis- 
sions of Jerusha's choosing; but now the tone of the 
gathering was threatened by one she did not like. 



THE PAKLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 233 

^' Heaps o^ wonders ! ^' said Jerusba. '* If there aiu't 
old Ephrum Junkins — pegging 'long the road 's 
though he 'd been made whole by faith ! Ma ! Ma ! 
There 's old Ephrum Junkins ! Now what you going 
to do ? I sha'n't have him ! I sha'n't, if I set up 
here till kingdom come ! " 

The echoing of this statement through the house 
brought consternation, as every one knew what Jeru- 
sha Jane would n't do when she said she would n't. 
Father Elisha at first mildly suggested that they 
might as well let Ephraim in, now that he had come 
so far. But Mother Lemly put her thumb on him. 
She issued warning to the people who were yet out- 
doors, and they vanished quickly at her command. 
The wedding guests inside suddenly found themselves 
whispering in the dark, with all the shades drawn, 
and information concerning the progress of Ephraim 
Junkins in great demand. Some of those outside, 
who had failed to get into the barn before it was 
locked, ran hither and thither, and finally put them- 
selves away as best they could ; and everybody was 
saying to himself : " Well I do declare ! "— at such a 
situation. The most unconcerned person near by was 
Ephraim. When after a few minutes he reached the 
place, he apparently bade fair to pass on without hav- 
ing vouchsafed a glance ; but when opposite the front 
door he paid it the compliment of a casual notice. 
At the same time seemed to arise a feeling that he 
ought to stop for a moment and pay his respects to 
old Elisha Lemly; though the perfunctoriness of it 
was plainly portrayed on Ephraim's face for all who 
cared to see. Jerusha Jane, peeping through a pin- 



234 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

hole she had made in her chamber shade, saw Eph- 
raim kuockiiig' at the kitchen door, just as had been 
his wont in the davs before his aihnents. 

There was no answer to his knocks. Ephraim 
tried the barn j but all the doors were locked. Then 
he went around to the front door, to which a freshly- 
trodden trail led through the long grass in the yard. 
Pinned to the panel was an envelop, bearing the 
scrawl : 

^' Le ml y's folks all went aivaij yesterday^ 

" Now, ain't that strange ! " soliloquized Ephraim, in 
a penetrating voice. " Old 'Lishy must have pulled 
up stakes and moved his family to the next county." 

The door of the long wagon shed had been so hast- 
ily fastened that Ephraim opened it with little diffi- 
culty, and the effort gave him a chance to prove that 
his strength had not so wholly departed as people 
might think. The sound caused considerable rust- 
ling in a pile of salt hay inside. In fact, old Silas 
Ludlow, who was much beholden to Ephraim Junkins 
for past services in the way of speechmaking, — Silas 
being blessed with seven daughters, — had, in endeav- 
oring to hide his head, exposed, one half of his person. 

^^ Now, who 'd a-thought ! " said Ephraim, surveying 
this considerable half. "If there ain't old Silas's 
pantyloons — all stuffed with salt hay so 's to keep! 
I 've known 'em for years by that j^atch, which don't 
appear except when he steps into his wagon down to 
the meeting-house. Gone and left his boots sticking 
into 'em — almost 's natural 's life; looks as though 
he was kinder anxious 'bout something when he left 
'em there — kinder absent-minded and hurried-like. 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 235 

Now, what sights you do see when you 're all alone 
and no one to prove it ! '^ 

It was getting unduly warm inside the Lendy 
house, with only the scullery window open. Ezra 
Dame, who was shortly to be joined in holy matri- 
mony to Jerusha Jane, if only the Lord would make 
a suitable disposition of Ephraim Junkins, was so em- 
barrassed in his corner that he was smiling painfully; 
and it was especially hard on the two Lemly poor re- 
lations, who toiled in the kitchen, cooking the wed- 
ding dinner and growing redder in the face and more 
hateful of Jerusha every minute. Ephraim had been 
investigating with leisurely thoroughness; and now 
he made his way to the front door, and solemnly set- 
tled himself on the big stone step. In the parlor the 
impression gained that he had gone. But now he 
was plainly heard to say : 

" Guess I '11 set and brood awhile." 

For some time Ephraim kept eating some choice 
apples he had discovered near the scullery window. 

"Now I will say this is a pretty tearful subject,'^ he 
began, at length, in a voice as if he was talking to a 
large assemblage, but all the while looking at the en- 
velop in his hand. " Here 's the whole Lemly fam'ly 
suddenly took right off the earth ^ — clean sweep. 
Here 's me a-setting on the door-step, and here 's the 
old Lemly house shut 's tight 's a drum, and nary soul 
inside — nary one. Now, ain't that a pity! Here 's 
the barn-doors closed, and old Lemly forgot and went 
off and left 'em all padlocked on the inside. I don't 
see how he ever got out himself, nor how he 's to git 
in. But T see through a crack they was as many 's 



236 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

fifteen of his neighbors' hosses crawled in there some- 
how or other, and it 's a wonder some of their owners 
ain't here looking for 'era. Strange that old Lemh^ 
should go 'way and leave these fancy Baldwins 'round. 
Dunno 's they 's anything I like so 's one of his late- 
ripe'ing Baldwins, when they 're hard and green, 
same 's these ; and this was off year for apples, too ; 
and Simon Staples told me only yesterday how 'Lishy 
was saving the only few he had, for some pet purpose, 
and here he 's gone away and left 'em ! I sh'll have 
to take the rest of 'em home. 

*"Tis mighty sad to think of the whole Lemly tribe 
being wiped off the niap of this township in one sun- 
down," continued Ephraim, turning to face the dark- 
ened windows, " especially that old dried-up Jerushy 
Jane, her that we was all afraid would git spliced to 
that young nincompoop Ezry Dame. I 'm glad she 's 
quit without so, for that 's a sight of trouble saved. 
I 'm glad because, that while 't is generally thought 
that while Jerushy Jane — even her — deserves a mite 
better than such as him, also Ezry Dame he deserves 
a quick sight better than Jerushy Jane. For the 
Lord knows no one would think of marrying her if 
't wa'u't for what her father has. 7 was scared least 
they would hitch up, and I be requested to make one 
them felicitating speeches, one such as no wedding 
has been complete without or thought of in these here- 
abouts for the last twentv-five vears. For I should 
of had to git out of it the easiest I could, without 
hurting some one's feelings, not being cantankerous- 
like nor mean-snea'king out from a thing, as folks has 
been known to. But I 'd seen Jerushy Jane die an 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 237 

old maid, which by nature she was meant to do, 'fore 
I 'd git up and prognosticate lies 'bout her future 
happiness, here or hereafter ; for there ain't a person 
in this county that can see how any one is to be con- 
gratulated for marrying Jerushy Jane, nor any one 
for marrying Ezry Dame." 

In the parlor old Peter Hammond, while waiting 
for the ceremony to begin, had fallen asleep. Ezra 
Dame was so red that he thought his cheeks visible in 
the dark — a thought which made them redder. 

" So they 's a sorter sweet sorrer in that," pursued 
Ephraim, '' though it does seem pretty tearful to have 
the whole Lemly f am'ly took out from under your 
feet like a stroke of lightning. They must of left in 
a hurry, for they did n't stop to take in the mats from 
the doors, but left out their best one, which I ain't 
seen before since I give it to Mother Lemly when she 
and 'Lisby had their silver wedding. Pretty expen- 
sive mat that was — as any one could see by comparing 
it to the one 'Lishy bought to give the minister when 
he was married. Mother Lemly, I hear, used this one 
for a tidy at first. She 'd never gone and left it lying 
loose like this unless 't was something happened — 
mebbe she heard of some one that was willing to 
marry Jerushy ; and as for 'Lishy, Lord knows he 
would n't leave a hoss-hair 'round if he thought an 
angel might take it for a harp-string. And they left 
the scullery window open. Awful absent-minded," 
said Ephraim J rising. " Thieves might break in and 
steal Jerushy's curls." 

The remainder of the late-ripening Baldwins had 
disappeared from the scullery window ; but Ephraim 



238 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

did not seem to notice it. He took away the stick 
that held the sash up, and closed the window, leav- 
ing the two poor relations to stifle in the kitchen. 
In the parlor the minister was staring devontly at 
the points of sunlight tliat came through the win- 
dow-shade to which Ephraim was now addressing 
his meditations. Every one was unaware of Eph- 
raim, and determined that every one else should 
perceive it. 

^' Beats all/^ continued Ephraim loudly, as he set- 
tled himself once more on the stone step, ^' how things 
without spiritual life shows how they miss Jerushy ! 
^T is juss so everything that belongs to the fam'ly 
could speak. 'Here,' says this envelop, which I see 
is postmarked this morning, and could n't of got 
here before this noon — ' here,' says it, ' Ephrum Jun- 
kins must know 'bout this.' So it shakes the letter 
from its inwards, and runs and gits a pencil and 
scratches on its back : ' Lemly's folks all went away 
yesterday,' in a first-rate forgery of Mother Lemly's 
handwi'iting; and then climbs up and pins itself to 
the door. Juss the same with the things out back. 
' Here,' says they, ' Jerushy Jane 's gone off looking 
for some wooden-head to marry her ; but we '11 git 
ourselves ready 'gainst her coming back unsuccessful, 
juss same 's them two poor relations of hers, that 
does all the work and gits nothing for it but leav- 
ings and hard words, same 's they was here to slop 
'round and get dinner.' So them late-ripe'ing Bald- 
wins says to themselves : ' Here, we 'd better git in 
out the sun, or we '11 git mellered 'fore our time.' 
So they up and roll int' the house, same 's they had 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 239 

legs. Then the sink-pump begins to draw water, — I 
can hear it a-snorting now, — sounds juss 's though 
old Peter Hammond was setting in the corner of the 
parlor winder and had fell asleep waiting for some- 
thing to happen. Then out back the shed some that 
wood that 'Lishy cut from widder Cole's half-acre, 
because she could n't pay the interest on the mort- 
gage, and he knew the church would git her through 
the winter somehow — some that wood takes the ax 
and chops itself to kindlings, and gits a match and 
crawls int' the stove, and touches itself off and roars 
like a turkey -red lion, as you can see by the smoke 
a-spilling out the chimney. ^Jerushy Jane '11 be 
home 'for' long,' says everything. And the old 
black pot gits down off the hook, and waddles up to 
the sink and gits itself full of water, and climbs up 
on the stove, and sets down to git a-bubbling. And 
then the onions, — I can smell 'em 's loud 's they 
was under my chin, — well, they turn to and peel off 
their coats, and run and jump int' the pot, and squat 
down to bile ! 

"Still," said Bphraim, very loudly, "I dunno why 
I sh'd be brooding here. The Lemlys ain't much to 
me. I always treated 'em considerate like. When 
Mother Lemly come to me and said what a close- 
fisted old barn-rat 'Lishy was, I never told 'Lishy. 
When 'Lishy come to me and asked if 't was wicked 
to wish that Mother Lemly was enjoying a stay in 
Heaven, I never told her. I give 'em both my honest 
sympathy ; but they ain't anything to me — more than 
folks that live in the same town that I do. First 
thing I know my folks from Boston will be arriving ; 



240 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

and I dimno 's I 'd pick out juss these steps to let 'em 
see me setting on ; for my Boston folks are pretty 
tony and stylish, and rather particular 'bout who 
they see me with. I '11 make that stretch home in 
'bout nine minutes." 

Ephraim straightened himself and walked briskly 
from the yard, and still more briskly until he had 
gone from sight around a bend in the road. The ex- 
ercise, far from fatiguing him, was exhilarating; and 
he kept on at the same gait, chuckling as he went. 
The stick with which he had plodded up the stairs to 
find Zendy lay forgotten in the Lemly yard. Eph- 
raim grew more charmed with himself at every step. 

Zendy was standing alone. The figure that seemed 
to be Ephraim was coming too fast for him, and when 
Ephraim was within call he did not seem himself; for 
the customary melancholy of his face was supplanted 
by a gleam of satisfaction. Zendy was troubled. 

"What 's the matter?" she said. "Where you 
been ? Where 's your stick ? Ain't you tuckered ? " 

" Well, sir," said Ephraim, radiantly, steaming past 
her and taking the rise in front of the house at a pace 
which left her in the rear. " Well, sir, I juss give it 
to 'em ! Guess they won't forgit it ! Is anybody fol- 
lering me — ? 'Cause I ain't looked 'round ; — walked 
off juss same 's I forgotten 'em at their own gate. 
You oughter heard me a-brooding aloud — offhand ! 
^ Onions took their coats off,' says I, ^ and jumped in 
and squat down to bile ! ' Plain 's your face ! And 
Silas's Sunday pantyloons — hee, hee! Well, sir, 
you '11 wish you 'd come!" 

" There, Ephraim, there," said Zendy, soothingly. 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 241 

" You ain't quite well, I 'm sure. You 're all tuck 
ered, ain't ye ? There, I should n't let myself git so 
excited. How 's your aches ? " 

'' Tuckered ? '' said Ephraim. '' Who 's tuckered ? 
1 11 teach 'em I ain't no setting rooster, b' George ! 
Think I 've lost my gift, do they ? As for aches and 
pains, I ain't a single one — if I was to try. Dunno 
's I ever shall have again. I 've shook my ills and 
give up pills — and don't pay no more doctor's bills, 
— eh, Zendy?" 

"Ephrum Juukins," said Zendy, solemnly, "you've 
got to git right to bed ! You 're a sick man ; and you 
don't realize it one mite. I ain't seen you exert so 
these ten years ! Don't you lemme hear 'nother word. 
You need every parcel of strength you got. Oh, Eph- 
rum, why did n't you stay to home ? " 

" Go-to-bed pshaw ! " said Ephraim. '^ I tell ye I 'm 
's pert 's a sparrer. Could n't find no ache nor pain 
if I was to hunt." 

"That 's juss what 's the matter," said Zendy. 
"You 've come to the fair hill-top overlooking the 
valley of shadder of death, Ephrum, and here you 
be a-ready to go coasting down t' the bottom 's fast 's 
you know how ! Don't you see how 't always is ? — 
them that's ailing all of a sudden gifting up and hop- 
ping round outdoors and looking pert, and everybody 
saying how smart Ephrum Junkins is looking — and 
then all of a jump the Lord whisks your head off 's 
though 't was an ax. Ephrum — I dunno, Ephrum! 
There," she said, recovering herself; "you go to bed, 
won't ye '^ " 

" Pshaw ! " said Ephraim. " Here I be as skittish 

16 



242 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

as a yeller kitten. You sh'd see me kiting 'long the 
road, 's though I was shot from a bow ! Well, sir, 
they was fifteen hosses that crawled int' that barn, 
b' George; and they 'd locked themselves in — eh? 
I s'pose I set there 's much 's an hour — brooding 
to myself loud enough for the pigeons. I callate 
Jerushy Jane '11 live to see me — " 

But the enthusiasm had spilled from Ephraim's 
voice. 

'' I was going to step off front the house 'bout time 
the wedding broke off, and chop that tree I been a- 
going to so long," he added, thoughtfully. 

Zendy left him sitting still in the rocking-chair, 
gazing rather steadily at his thumbs. She ran down 
to the road and caught the boy whom she had seen 
driving one of Lemly's teams. 

"You hurry and find Doctor Payne," she said. 
" He 's down to the wedding, I guess. You tell him to 
come up along 's fast 's he can ; for Ephrum Junkins 
is took so that I misdoubt he '11 last the evening. 
You hurry and I '11 give you a watermelon." 

When she came back Ephraim was silent, and she 
looked at him sadly and said nothing. He expected 
her to urge him again to retire; but she did not. 
At length Ephraim said : 

" Of course, if you 're any scared, Zendy, I s'pose I 
might just as well go. Still, it does seem kinder 
foolish ; and I should n't tell any the neighbors 'bout 
it." 

" Hain't you the leetlest kind of an ache ? " asked 
Zendy. 

*'No," said Ephraim, with a shade of regret. "I 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 243 

caD't truthfully git up and lie 'bout it. I ain't got 
the shadder of one." 

" It 's unusual," said Zendy ; " and unusual breeds 
unusual. You jump in ^s quick 's you know how; 
and I '11 make a poultice and some licorish tea ; and 
I '11 stuff your ears with cotton, so the crickets and 
roosters and things sha'n't keep you awake. And 
there, I 'd drink some hot water if I was you. Dun- 
no 's I should be scared, Ephraim ; mebbe it '11 pass 
off in the night." 

Ephraim lay in the depths of the feather-bed, with 
the blinds closed, while Zendy stirred about the ad- 
joining kitchen. A streak of sunlight came through 
and found the wall beside him ; all the world seemed 
wide awake and well ; but Ephraim's lightsome spirits 
had departed. Presently he called : 

'^'T is kinder unusual, ain't it?" 

'' Well, mebbe," said Zendy. " Still — " 

" Still what ? " said Ephraim, with the cotton in his 
ears. ^' Say, I guess you 'd better git out some that 
Mrs. Slopley's Sure Cure — 't won't do no harm; 
though I dunno 's they 's any cause for you to git 
worried, feeling so smart 's I do — ?" 

" Oh no," said Zendy ; '^ worrying will only make 
you worse." 

Ephraim lay staring at the ceiling, unpleasantly 
aware of his own fiber. He listened to the throbbing 
of his arteries and asked himself if there was not 
something unusual in it^ — unusual bred unusual. 
People's hearts sometimes unexpectedly stopped, and 
then people gave three gasps and all was over. 

''S'pose you set some that Greenson's Painkiller 



244 THE PAKLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

handy," he called. ^' And if you sh'd see Doctor 
Payne you might yell to him, I felt 's coltish 's a 
calf when I laid down here ; but I duuuo." 

The ticking of the clock seemed to keep time with 
his breathing — at least it had at fii'st ; but now 
surely the clock was getting ahead. His lungs might 
be gradually slowing down, and perhaps they would 
lag until by and by they would stop short — col- 
lapsed like an empty bellows. 

" I duuno but you 'd better send for him, Zendy — 
so ^s to keep you from worrying," he managed to say 
without falling behind the clock. 

" There, I should n't snort so," said Zendy. " He ^s 
a-coming." 

"What, you sent for him?" exclaimed Ephraim. 
" I wonder if you 've had one your presentiments ? I 
should n't have such nonsense. Here I be, locking's 
bright 's a new dollar — ain't I? What 's the use 
you trying to scare me so! There, ain't that clock 
gitting ready to stop ! I ain't superstitious ; but you 
kinder make me nervous running 'round the way 
you do.-' 

Zendv comforted him with the licorice tea for his 
inner man, and with something she put between his 
shoulders — a poultice the mustardy nature of which 
she concealed from Ephraim on account of his objec- 
tion to being burned. The licorice tea began search- 
ing for the late-ripening Baldwins. 

Lemly's boy had met the people as they were leav- 
ing after the wedding , and he mingled among them, 
eager with the importance of his news ; so that be- 
fore dusk every one had heard of Ephraim^s going to 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 245 

bed. Those who had known Ephraim and Zendy 
since early years came in to see if they could be of 
assistance ; and they made a considerable gathering 
of people in their Sunday clothes. 

"I ain't going to be caught napping/' exclaimed 
Zendy. "Here he ails and wails every minute for 
two years, and here he gits up suddenly and tramps 
off somewhere, and says he ain't got an ache nor a 
pain, and wants to chop down trees! I juss drove 
him to bed." 

Ephraim removed the cotton from one ear. The 
arrival of the visitors had for awhile turned his 
thoughts away from himself. 

" Real nice of you to put your good clothes on juss 
to come see us/' he heard Zendy say. They all sat in 
the kitchen, with the lamp casting a dimness over 
their faces; and they settled themselves as if they 
had come to see the affair to its end. Conversation 
languished; for everybody was thinking about the 
wedding, and no one dared to speak of it. Old Peter 
Hammond, who was deaf, was last; and Ephraim 
heard him say: 

" What — nary an ache nor pain ? " 

" Nary a fly-bite," called Ephraim. " I dunno 'f the 
Lord 's crowding a place for me on the other shore ; 
but seems to me 't would of been juss as well if I 'd 
first stepped out front and chopped that old apple- 
tree. Been going to these ten years ; ever since the 
time Leviticus Brooks drove the pitchfork into his 
leg, and Alice Dame 's calf got hurt, too, and Joel 
Pitkin was 'lected.'' 

" He 's beginning to reach back,'' whispered Amanda 

16^ 



24:6 THE PARLOUS WHOLEKESS OF EPHRAIM 

Dame to Sarah Tower. " When they begin to reach 
back years and years, then I know they 're going 
out." 

This remark was repeated to the others ; and for 
a while Ephraim heard nothing but an ominous 
murmuro 

'^ Good deal of sickness and ailments 'round/^ came 
the voice of Mother Margery Hook, at length breaking 
the funereal silence. ^^ They do say May Teuny War- 
ren won^t last out the night — and she so young, too, 
— you would n't expect. And then old Jeddy Mar- 
vin — that was born on same day 's Ephraim — he 's 
done a fearful night and ain't no better. I declare I 
ain't got nothing fit to wear to a funeral.^' 

'^ You '11 have to go just to weddings till you git 
something new,'* said Zendy, surveying Mother Mar- 
gery's lavender trimmings. This remark caused an- 
other silence. 

" Zendy ! " called Ephraim. '^ You steep me some 
that catnip, will ye ? " 

"What she said reminds me of old Josiah Cod- 
man," came the voice of Hannah Swan. " Old Jo- 
siah, ^f you remember, rose up from a stroke and 
hoed a whole patch of beets. Come evening he was 
flat on his back ; and stone cold before morning." 

Ephraim^s mind went back to the clock, which now 
seemed to tarry behind his breathing. Perhaps his 
lungs would go faster and faster, until they burst 
with panting, and he lay stone dead. 

" There was Jim Sweet's wife, too," he heard Angy 
Brooks say. "She left the chronic sinking-fits and 
went to a dance. Said she 'd like to see the one that 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 247 

could outbob and fliug with her ! And she up and 
died in the middle of a jig. Most of the orthodox 
folks took it for a judgment." 

'^ Then Eunice Dexter, 'f you remember," said Han- 
nah Swan— "she that married the Spooner twins, 
one after the other. She got up and went to a husk- 
ing, and died from eating Mother Hammond's pan- 
dow^dy. I don't s'pose Ephrum 's et anything, has 
her' 

" No," said Zendy 5 " he ain't et anything ; he 's too 
scared to eat what fights him." But Ephraim thought 
of the late-ripening Baldwins ; and for some indefina- 
ble reason he wished he had not touched them. 

'' Zendy ! " he called. " That boy ain't found Doctor 
Payne ! Why 's he so slow ! " 

"Doctor Payne?" said Mother Margery Hook. 
" Gone to Boston — for a week." 

" Thunder ! " said Ephraim, breaking out in a cold 
sweat. " Zendy, what you going to do ? " 

"And Doctor Wallace is away to Bucksport," 
whispered Peter Hammond, loudly. " Still, I don't 
think a doctor would mend any, Zendy. I quit 
doctoring these ten years. Speaking of like cases," 
Ephraim heard Peter say, "come to think of it, 
there was Ephrum's own father. T was juss 'bout 
same ^s this. Dunno 's any of you remember ^ but 
old Ephrum had been lain up with something he 
called typhoid-gout, — he doctored himself mostly,— 
and one day he rose off his lounge, where he 'd been 
most the time for several years, carving little clipper 
ships inside of ginger-pop bottles, rose off and took 
stick and stumped clear down to Cedar Creek; and 



248 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 

made old Enocli Blood, — that was keeping a black- 
smith shop 'bout where the meeting-house now is, — 
made him pone up seven dollars Enoch had owed him 
since he 'd married Thankful Spinney — with seven 
per cent, interest — and had them four boys. And 
old Ephrum come a-thumping home all smiling 's 
could be, and said he callated to git out to work to 
his trade — which, if you rec'lect, was shipwright. 
Well, come lamplight, — 'bout this time 's I remember, 
— he was suddenly took with a cramp somewhere in 
his inwards; and old Ephrum juss wriggled himself 
out of this world — vou 'd heard him for miles. He 

ft/ 

had three doctors; but Lord, the doctors could n't 
do him no good ! So Ephrum need n't feel so bad." 

^^ Zendy," called Ephraim, feebly, with beads upon 
his brow. '' My inwards don't feel right. S'pose I 
take some Fam'ly Cure? I think mebbe I have a 
pain." 

Zendy absented herself for awhile, during which 
she conned the symptoms of Ephraim with a prac- 
tised eye. Then she came out and whispered to the 
rest. 

" His eyes are kinder staring, and his breath comes 
quick, and his hair kinder stands up ; but Lord, I ain't 
worried no more. He ain't going to sink. No, he 
ain't; I know Ephrum." 

" I dunno 's I sh'd be too hopeful," Ephraim heard 
Mother Margery say ; and Peter Hammond whispered 
very plainly ! " Neither sh'd I — with that pain — so 
like his fatherc" 

'* Zendy ! '' called Ephraim. " 440 's commencing 
to burn betwixt my shoulder-bladeSo T wish some of 



THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 249 

you 'd look into the book. Zeudy ain't worth a hill 
of beans with it." 

Peter Hammond had the book in his grasp, and 
no one could get it away from him. 

" Here 's 440/' said Peter, after a search which had 
led him to page 440 instead of to the ailment of that 
number. " Some kinder fits, it says ; but pshaw, 
Ephrum, it don't say they break out 'twixt your 
shoulder-blades." 

"Zendy — ain't you a gump ! " cried Ephraim, 
" Give the book to some one that can spell num- 
bers. Have I got to lay here and die ! Oh, my back ! 
Oh, but I 'm a sick man ! " 

Zendy returned to the chamber^ Ephraim lay with 
his face pushed into the pillow. 

" My time 's come," he cried in mufiSed tones. " I can 
feel myself stiflin'. I 'm a-goin' ; 201 's comin' back ; 
697 's comin' ; 440 's bringin' on 441 ! I 'm a-goin' j 
good-by, Zendy, if I sh'd lose my mind ! " 

Zendy came and closed the door. The visitors 
stared expectantly. 

"I guess you folks had better all go home,*' she 
said, " unless you got some wedding or other to go 
to J for it kinder flusters Ephrum. He 's all right 
now. He 's got his aches and pains back j and he 's 
too strapping mad and scared with his ailments to be 
a-going to die. Good-night, all," she said, as she held 
the lamp and they filed out into the dark. " I kinder 
put faith In that mustard and licorish." But it was 
plain that they all thought Ephraim in a perilous 

state. 
Ephraim was rolling and writhing in the billows of 



250 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHKAIM 

the feather-bed. Zendy hove a sigh of relief to see 
him ; aud she sat down and rested in the wooden 
rocker. 

'' There, if you ain't carrying on natural/' she said, 
approvingly. ''Just as like yourself as two peas. 
There, I dunno 's I 'd shout so." 

'' I was ticketed to leave ye 'fore long ! " cried Eph- 
raim. '' I kep' tellin' ye so, but I did n't git no sympa- 
thy. 440 has struck in ! Zendy, why don't you git 
scared and do somethin' f Here I be on my dyin' bed, 
and you a-settin' there like a bump on a log! Oh, 
them apples — my back 's burnin' right off ! Oh, Zendy, 
ain't you got no more feeling than I was a frog 'I " 

The head of Cory Judd appeared at the open 
window. 

" Heard Ephrum was took," said Cory, who some- 
times looked like an owl. " How 's he doing?" 

"Oh, he 's doing real nice, thank ye," said Zendy. 
" I guess he only et something." 

" Oh, yuss ! " said Ephraim, savagely, rising in bed. 
*' I was invited out to a wedding ; and I et the door- 
knob off the door ! " 



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